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‘Sitting on the Mourning Bench': Mental Health Workers and an Elderly Client

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The present article documents the experience of a first year social work student on fieldwork placement in an Aged Persons Mental Health Service. The student was part of a team providing service to a long-term client of the service when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The student's compassionate response to the client raises questions about grief and professionalism, which she explored through a journal and in discussion with her supervisor and other team members working with the client. As part of their reflective practice, the student, her supervisor and the client's mental health workers formed a collective to document their experience and present a staff education session. This article is the outcome of these processes and explores important grief issues in Aged Psychiatry and demonstrates the valuable contribution made by a student to the work of the team in the rich learning environment of a fieldwork placement in aged psychiatry. It is published with the kind permission of the client's next of kin.
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Keywords: Aged psychiatry; Grief; Social Work Student

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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