Higher-degree research being undertaken by Stephanie Wade

Degree: DSW

Supervisors:

Dr Lesley Laing and Honorary Associate Professor Lindsey Napier

Thesis title:

Embracing uncertainty: the experiences of hospital social workers’ working at end of life.

Email:

suni4084@uni.sydney.edu.au

Project description

Stephanie’s project is in aid of understanding the role and experiences of public hospital social workers, working with patients and families at end of life. Currently there is very limited literature available around the skills and experiences of social workers practicing in this area, outside of palliative care. Changing workplace pressures and expectations have seen the social work role change and develop overtime, with new challenges to end of life practice. A sense of uncertainty has been identified as one of the key elements of the social workers experience. This project is aiming to improve the practice of hospital social workers, in order to benefit patients and families at end of life.

Four two-hour co-operative inquiry group sessions were conducted with practicing hospital social workers, forming the foundation of the data. These group sessions were aimed at researching the current risks and uncertainties facing hospital social workers working with patients and families at end of life. The participants were encouraged to identity existing challenges and share how they currently manage these experiences in practice. In addition, the participants were able to explore together how these obstacles may be overcome in the future.

Stephanie believes that it is important that hospital social workers are up skilled in the area of end of life practice, in light of their position at the coal face dealing with death and dying and the ageing population. She is excited about the research, with its potential to influence and change hospital social work practice on the frontline, for the benefit of the patients and families they serve.

Stephanie Wade has worked for a number of years in Hospital Social Work in the Western Sydney Local Health District. She has occupied many roles across ward areas from oncology and high dependency, neurology, respiratory, renal and cardiology, to aged care, infectious diseases, surgery and palliative care, to name a few. At one stage she was working as the Senior Bone Marrow Transplant Social Worker as part of the state wide service. She has also acted as Team Leader throughout the busy seasons of hospital life. Currently Stephanie works as a Senior Social Worker at hospital in Sydney, allowing her the flexibility as a part time professional to complete the DSW.

In rare moments of spare time, Stephanie enjoys playing tennis, bike riding and going out for coffee.

Awards

  • Ogilvie Palliative Care Bequest 2007, 2008 and 2014