Life’s end journey

Social workers in palliative care

Authored by: Martha Wiebe

The Routledge Handbook of Religion, Spirituality and Social Work

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138931220
eBook ISBN: 9781315679853
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315679853.ch26

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Abstract

The profession of social work has its historic roots in religion. Much of the early work done by social workers was initiated and funded by churches caring for the poor, the disabled, the orphaned and other marginalised people in society (Cnaan et al. 2004; Crisp 2010; Graham et al. 2006; Schmidt 2008). As social work became more prominent and strived to become a respected, scientifically-based profession it moved away from religion. Things of the spirit defy scientific measurement and explanation. Evidence-based practice could not incorporate the immeasurable spiritual and religious dimensions and thus they were seen as incompatible with professionalism. Indeed social work made efforts to distance itself from its beginnings and particularly from religion (Gilligan and Furness 2006; Henery 2003; Sheridan and Amato-von Hemert 1999; Streets 2009). In part it was also the case that governments started taking a more active role in delivering many social services and churches thus had a less prominent role to play.

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