Title

Listening with the third ear and other expertises: a case analysis of social work discourse in the context of the multidisciplinary palliative care team

Document Type

Journal Article

Publisher

The College of Community Psychologists Australian Psychological Societyof the

Faculty

Computing, Health and Science

School

Computing, Health and Science

RAS ID

4259

Comments

This article was originally published as: Fisher, C., Guilfoyle, A., & O'Connor, M. (2006). Listening with the third ear and other expertises: a case analysis of social work discourse in the context of the multidisciplinary palliative care team. Australian Community Psychologist, 18(2). Original available here

Abstract

The philosophy of palliative care is to provide holistic support to people living with a life threatening illness and their families, optimally delivered by a multi-disciplinary health care team with the patient and his/her family centralised as the prime drivers of decisions about support and care. We argue, however, that palliative care is in effect more than this: it is an expression of shared cultural beliefs about the ‘right’ way to die in the context of a terminal illness with a concomitant impact on the ability of the patient to define his/her own support needs. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault and through analysis of a case study of the social worker on a palliative care multidisciplinary team, we argue that the impact of shared cultural beliefs about ways of dying, coupled with the functioning of the multidisciplinary team, can work to marginalise the patient and render his/her voice silent, and hence, become secondary to professional expertises in decisions surrounding support and care at the end of life