Social welfare needs of bereaved Australian carers: Implications of insights from palliative care and welfare workers

Kristin Bindley, Joanne Lewis, Joanne Travaglia, Michelle DiGiacomo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An individual and psychological emphasis has influenced practice and research on bereavement following informal care provision in the context of life-limiting illness. Consideration of the potential for bereavement to be shaped by intersecting social and structural inequities is needed; and should include an understanding of interactions with government institutions and social policy. This qualitative study employed interpretive description to explore the way in which palliative care workers and welfare sector workers perceive and approach experiences and needs of bereaved carers receiving government income support or housing assistance in Western Sydney, an area associated with recognised socioeconomic disadvantage. A total of 21 palliative care workers within a public health service and welfare workers from two government social welfare services participated in in-depth interviews. Data were analysed using framework analysis. Participants highlighted social welfare policy and related interactions that may impact bereavement, potentially related to financial, housing and employment precariousness. Personal, interpersonal and structural factors perceived to shape the navigation of welfare needs were explored, alongside needed professional and structural changes envisioned by workers. With limited forms of capital, vulnerably positioned carers may encounter difficulties that heighten their precariousness in bereavement. Transactional organisational cultures alongside health and welfare agencies that function in a siloed manner appear to contribute to structural burden for carers, following death due to life-limiting illness. Palliative care and welfare workers also associated elements of their work with bereaved carers with their own experiences of helplessness, frustration and distress. Findings point to a need for the development of interagency strategies in addition to policy underpinned by more nuanced understandings of vulnerability in bereavement, post-caring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-642
Number of pages12
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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