Sharing expertise on bereavement and social work

A new book, journal article and two conference talks from Dr Denise Turner will explore death and dying in the social work profession.

Date: 04 September 2020

Dr Denise Turner, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, is set to share her research on bereavement and social work through a number of initiatives.  

She will be addressing Community Care Live, a major conference for the Social Work profession, on 14 October. Her talk will focus on how managers can support staff who have experienced sudden, unexpected death. The conference provides the social work sector with two full days of continuing professional development (CPD) and essential learning, covering key topics across childrens’ and families’ social work, adult social work and social work management.

Later in the year, on 16 December, she will also speak at the Global Diversities and Inequalities Research Centre on Improving experiences of dying and bereavement through practice near research. The Centre is a home for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary scholarship that explores migration, diasporas, nations, regions and localities through the lenses of diversity and inequality. 

She is also editing a new book, Social Work and COVID-19: Lessons for Education and Practice, to be published by Critical Publishing. The lockdown, social distancing measures and rapid move to online working created multiple challenges and safeguarding concerns for social work education and practice, whilst the unparalleled death rate exacerbated pre-existing problems with communicating openly about death and bereavement. Many of these issues were already at the surface of social work practice and education and this book examines how the health crisis has exposed these, whilst acting as a potential catalyst for change.

The book also includes a chapter drawn from Dr Turner’s research on loss, change and bereavement; and another by three social work undergraduate students, Andrew Lorimer, Francis Sentamu and Rachel Sharples, exploring their experiences of lockdown.

Finally, a paper co-authored by Dr Turner and the University of Chichester’s Marie Price, Resilient when it comes to death: Exploring the significance of bereavement for the well-being of social work students, will be published in the journal Qualitative Social Work. Findings from the study demonstrate a lack of training on death and bereavement within initial social work education and continuing professional development, leaving a pervasive gap in the knowledge available to social workers. Participants in the study also reported an extensive deficit in bereavement support, leading to a social work student who experienced the death of a service user being told simply: You have to be more resilient about death.’ The article is in press and due for publication shortly.