Back to all stories

Getting a smile or a high 5

“Every individual and family I meet inspires me in such different ways to continue to want to give the best of myself and role as a social worker to hopefully meet their needs”

My name is Heidi Barker, I work in Paediatric Palliative Care at Perth Children’s Hospital in Western Australia. Paediatric Palliative Care is an area I have been passionate about for many years and I am grateful to be part of this service and the team that provide care and support to families.  I have been a Social Worker for 22 years working with families and individuals, in Australia, the UK and Africa.

I have always felt a strong connection and gravity towards becoming a Social Worker from childhood.  I believe this stems from my own health needs accessing hospital services working closely with Social Workers and other health professionals, who not only provided great support and direction to my family, but also inspired me and inevitably shaped my future to want to do the same.

For me, in Paediatric Palliative Care, my role can be as simple as organising support letters to employers or other agencies to advocating for families within complex systems such as the NDIS etc.  At the other end of the spectrum, I am able to sit practically and emotionally with families in some of their most vulnerable, exposed crisis points in their lives offering, compassion, care, and therapeutic guidance.  I am very appreciative of being able to work closely with a family during all aspects of these times and hopefully through my work and presence can provide some positive outcomes for them in an extremely difficult time.

I work with all members of the family, including parents, siblings and extended family members.   My role will shift and change over the course of my work with those families depending on their needs at any given time.

I also have the opportunity to continue to support families after the death of their child to assist them with their grief, bereavement and their new normal.

Social Work itself is not always an easy role to define as it changes based on the needs of the individuals and families I work with. However, I do know that I love my job, and every individual and family I meet inspires me in such different ways to continue to want to give the best of myself and hopefully meet their needs.

Getting a smile or a high 5 is enough!