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Rethinking palliative careA social role valorisation approach$
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Paul Sinclair

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861349217

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861349217.001.0001

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Reconceptualising death

Reconceptualising death

(p.193) seven Reconceptualising death
Rethinking palliative care

Paul Sinclair

Policy Press

The contradiction that palliative care devalues people who are dying while aiming to value them asks many questions of palliative care. This contradiction shows a deep confusion about devaluation and its processes. Something in palliative care's understanding of death as it relates to devaluation must, therefore, intersect with this contradiction and help sustain it. This chapter explores this connection with palliative care's conceptualisation of death that, naturally, reflects rather than challenges modern values and understandings of death. The discussion analyses the romantic idealisation of the compassionate ethos of the public-health approach of Kellehear (2005a) and, by implication, the romantic idealisation of the religious ethos of palliative care. Understanding the conceptualisation of death behind this idealisation makes clear the costs, with respect to the meaning of death, of universalising death and loss. Key nuances arising from the insights of Social Role Valorisation theory enable this monolithic and universalistic idea of death to be disassembled. The chapter begins by setting the groundwork for exploring the three faces of death. Using a ground breaking and unifying concept from Wolfensberger (1992a) to contextualise the idea of death, the discussion then turns to deriving the triune face of death.

Keywords:   palliative care, death, dying, public health, religious ethos, SRV

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