2019 General Assembly Program Sessions

Program sessions are at the heart of the SWHPN General Assembly experience, as social workers meet with one another to learn, discuss, and explore the issues that matter most to them.

Choose from over 75 sessions on research, diversity, communication, decision-making, grief, bereavement, hospice, special populations, and more. (Please note: times are subject to slight change as the final program is developed.)

For information on plenary sessions and keynote speakers, please visit the 2019 Plenaries page

Session 1: Monday, March 18, 9:45 - 10:45 am 

Research & Diversity Symposia

Experiences of LGBT Patients and Families in Hospice and Palliative Care

Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW, Cathy Berkman, MSW, PhD, and David Godfrey, JD

This study examines the degree to which palliative care team members and elder care attorneys personally observe or report inadequate, disrespectful, or abusive care involving LGBT patients and family members.  Study findings will be used to make recommendations that promote competent and respectful professional practice, staff training, and institutional policy to improve palliative care for the LGBT community.

Communication & Decision-Making

More Than Just Getting the Tissues: Promoting the Social Work Role in Team/Family Meetings

Danielle Jonas, MSW, LCSW and Caitlin Scanlon, MSW

Systemic and political factors have resulted in many social workers feeling as though it is not their role to contribute during family meetings. This presentation will evaluate the skills, perspectives, and attributes that make the social work advocacy voice and psychosocial perspective invaluable during these crucial decision-making moments.

Disease-Specific Interventions

“Read my lips:” Psychosocial Spiritual Assessments for Non-Vocal Patients

Abigail Latimer, LCSW, ACHP-SW

Hospice and palliative social workers train and strive to communicate skillfully. This is often challenging with patients who are intubated or otherwise non-vocal, for the patient and also the clinician. This session will provide information and tools to improve our assessments of and increase our clinical confidence with non-vocal patients.

Professional Development

Applying Evidence-Based Practices to Hospice Social Work Care for Emotional Distress

Vernon Krause LCSW-C, ACHP-SW

We know that hospice families experience emotional distress and evidence-based best practices (EVBP) have demonstrated effectiveness. This presentation will outline the steps that were required to apply EVBP to everyday hospice social work care and report on the resulting improved satisfaction of families and social workers.

Grief & Bereavement

I'd Rather Be Dead: Clinical Work with Demoralization in Advanced Illness

Abigail Nathanson, LCSW, ACS

Demoralization, a cluster of experiences centered around feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and existential angst, is increasingly understood as an aspect of the illness experience distinct from depression. Clinicians often struggle with how to respond to this kind of pain, for which there is rarely a clear answer or solution. This presentation seeks to help participants better understand the development of demoralization as a symptom and as a syndrome, presents a case study that highlights demoralization and the role of a palliative care team, and provides insight into best practices for social workers working with seriously ill patients.

Innovations in Clinical Practice

Extending our Reach: Tele-Health Delivered Grief Support Groups for Rural Hospice

Kathie Supiano, Ph.D., LCSW, F-GSA, FT, Alzina Koric, MS, Ph.D. student, Terri Yelonek, LCSW, Social Worker

The challenges of hospice service delivery in rural areas continue into the provision of bereavement care. We describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of a distance-technology delivered grief support group program for grieving persons in underserved rural/frontier communities in partnership with our state Telehealth Network and rural hospice agencies. We will describe the technology required to implement and sustain a low cost/high impact program, staff training procedures, participant recruitment, and retention strategies, and clinical outcomes of telehealth delivered grief group support for bereaved family caregivers served in rural hospice.

Special Populations: Veterans

Vietnam Veterans: Unique Issues at End of Life

Ryan Weller, LCSW and Jason Malcolm, LCSW

This presentation will provide a historical and psychosocial context for understanding the unique issues Vietnam Veterans may have at end of life.  The lingering effects of combat and service in Vietnam, including exposure to Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress, moral injury, and their manifestations at end of life will be discussed.  Recommendations for clinical practice with Vietnam Veterans and their families, as well as suggestions for agency-wife projects and approaches to care will be shared.

Session 2: Monday, March 18, 11:00 am -12:00 pm 

Grief & Bereavement

Offering HOPE: Caring for Bereaved Families through a Hospital-Based Parent and Clinician Collaboration

Nick Purol, MSW, Marsha Joselow, and Eric and Hannah Schermerhorn (parents)

Supporting the particular needs of individuals having faced the profound loss of a child can present as a delicate and sometimes daunting challenge - even for the most seasoned of palliative care and hospice clinicians. Through an interactive discussion of current bereavement modalities, our own practices in this field, and the lived experiences of a bereaved parent couple, we intend to advocate for nuanced and individual approaches to grief work while also providing an example of the resiliency and growth that can be found in shared exchanges and meaning-making.

Communication & Decision-Making

What Every Hospice and Palliative Social Worker Needs to Know about Prognostication

Barbara Head, PhD, CHPN, ACSW, FPCN

This session will explore the basics of prognostication in hospice/palliative care. Instruments that can be used by all members of the interdisciplinary team will be presented. Attendees will learn about important considerations when developing a prognosis and how to communicate with patients wanting to know about the time they may have left.

Special Populations

Right Care, Right Place, Right Time: Palliative Care for Patients with Severe Persistent Mental Illness

Kristin Drouin, MSW, LCSW

The lack of integrated approach to supporting individuals with severe persistent mental illness at end-of-life further disenfranchises an already vulnerable and oft-misunderstood population. This presentation will discuss the challenges of supporting patients with comorbid physical and psychiatric conditions across multiple care settings.

Leadership & Professional Development

Creating Successful Mentorship: Professional Development and Leadership Opportunities

Stephanie P. Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW, and Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW

Successful mentorship can shape a social work career and help develop leadership skills. This workshop will use case narratives to explore mentorship models, how to find and effectively engage in a mentoring relationship, and how to navigate ethical challenges. Available mentorship resources in palliative and hospice care will be provided.

Innovations in Clinical Practice

Lessons from a career in journalism and storytelling for palliative care social work

Rachel Dornhelm, 2nd-year MSW student; former public radio journalist

Palliative care is an interdisciplinary practice that regularly draws skills from disciplines common to hospital settings. There are other professions that have resonance with the field. This poster investigates and offers lessons for palliative care practice from one of these disciplines, public radio journalism.

Beyond The Bedside: The Use of Virtual Reality to Improve the Patient Experience at End of Life

Christine Coyne, LCSW, CCM

Symptom burden at the end of life may dictate setting of care; to die at home isn’t always an option. This presentation intends to address the integration of virtual reality to access familiar surroundings as a clinical intervention to improve emotional and psychosocial distress while facing end of life.

Special Populations; Pediatrics

Perinatal/Fetal Palliative Care: We Need to Be There

Mary Catherine Dubois, MSW, MHA, LISW-CP, CCM and Lindsey Williams, BS, MSW Candidate

The excitement (or distress) of a pregnancy can be shattered (or even worsened) at the news of a life limiting fetal condition when the customary 18 to 22-week gestation ultrasound reveals the details of the baby's anatomy. When Perinatal Palliative Care Social Work is involved in the Interdisciplinary Fetal Medicine Team, the early psychosocial support can lead not only to trust in the entire hospital system, but to healing of anticipatory grief through the knowing that support is always there.

Layers of Trauma: The Role of Trauma-Informed Care in Pediatric Palliative Care

Lauren Cramer, MSW, LCSW

When a traumatic event results in a child developing a life-threatening condition and/or when medical treatment becomes traumatic in and of itself, palliative care clinicians can utilize components of trauma-informed care.  This can further enhance comfort for the patients and families served. A case discussion will be used to demonstrate the benefits of incorporating components of evidenced-based trauma-informed care within pediatric palliative care to best navigate the inherent complexities of working with children and their families who have experienced trauma.

Diversity & Inclusion; Ethics

Interrupting Racism in Palliative Care

Tracy Ng, LASW

Racism affects the care we provide at the individual, team, institutional, and systemic levels. This presentation will explore the impact that racism has in palliative care, discuss why it is especially important for palliative care providers to interrupt racism, and identify interventions providers can use to address racism and promote equity.

When ethics and race collide in the NICU: Supporting faithful families across multiple identities

Lauren Schmidt, MSW, LICSW

This session will explore how race and spirituality impact the experience of a mother navigating care for her infant with Trisomy 13 and the role a medical team’s own moral distress had on her care. The presenter will highlight the role of the palliative care social worker in supporting both the family and the medical team.

Session 3: Monday, March 18, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Clinical Practice; Diversity & Inclusion

Navigating Microaggressions through the Lens of Clinicians of Color

Eunju Lee, LCSW; Na Anyeley Dzanka-Sowah, LMSW; Saima Toppa, LMSW, and Arianne J. Napier, LMSW

Moderated by Sharon Chung, LCSW

This symposium will highlight the ways in which racial microaggressions are experienced by and impact clinicians of color in a variety of palliative and end of life settings (e.g., hospice, hospital, and palliative home care). It seeks to illuminate a framework to understand clinicians’ disenfranchised experiences, particularly in these clinical environments that are susceptible to act as depositories of transference and countertransference. From the perspective of clinicians of color professional experiences and a review of literature we will explore ways to forge critical awareness of the subject.

Special Populations: Pediatrics

The Grieving Family: Life lessons that inform the future of end-of-life care

Nancy Cincotta, LCSW, MSW, MPhil, and Rachel Rusch, MSW, MA

Providing comprehensive counseling and support to siblings and families following the death of a child is considered an imperative extension of palliative care. Reviewing relevant research, psychosocial literature, and intervention-based initiatives, combined with the clinical wisdom gained from facilitating bereavement groups, this presentation will support and project a trajectory of interventions that will foster future coping and post-traumatic growth.

Program Design & Evaluation

Evaluating your Services: Guidance for Hospice and Palliative Care Providers

Jennifer Dickman Portz, PhD, MSW; Allison Gibson, PhD, MSW, LISW-CP; Stephanie P. Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW; Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW

Program evaluation is essential to providing high quality services. This presentation will provide an overview to planning and conducting an evaluation. Discussion topics will include types of evaluation, incorporating key stakeholders, identifying outcomes and measures, data collection and analysis. Participants will leave with an evaluation plan specific to their clinical setting.

Professional Development

The Power of Laughter

Crystal Rutherford, MSW, RSW, CT

You may have heard that laughter is the best medicine. This experiential presentation will provide participants the opportunity to explore their “childlike playfulness” through laughter exercises. Presenters will discuss the benefits of laughter, the importance of self care and how to incorporate laughter into their clinical practice. This presentation will examine the literature about the history of therapeutic laughter, the benefits of laughter, the reasons why we should laugh more and how to incorporate laughter into palliative and bereavement support. Participants are encouraged to come with the willingness to be silly and openness to building social interactions with others.

Disease-Specific Interventions

Applying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Palliative Care Counseling: A Case Study

Rachael Ryan Sarto, MSW, LICSW

This case study describes palliative care counseling interventions in the outpatient setting with a young man living with aplastic anemia. I discuss the application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to this specific case, as well as general congruence between ACT and palliative care aims.

Findings from a Palliative Care Needs Assessment: Implications for Social Work Practice in ALS Care

Karla T. Washington, PhD,  LCSW, Klaudia Kukulka, BS, Raghav Govindarjan, MD, and David Mehr, MD, MS

This session will include findings from a recent needs assessment in which researchers and clinicians partnered to elicit stakeholder input on the inclusion of palliative care professionals in the care of patients and families living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Specific opportunities for social work practice and leadership will be described.

Research, Policy, & Advocacy

Social Justice, Organizational Commitment and Palliative Care Practice

Suzanne Marmo, PhD, LCSW

A better understanding of how to maintain job satisfaction is important to increase tenure of qualified and experienced palliative care professionals. The goal of this study was to explore how social justice orientation and organizational commitment influence job satisfaction and intention to leave palliative care and hospice organizations.  A sample of 128 palliative care and hospice social workers and nurses were surveyed via an online survey. Findings suggest that organizational commitment plays a critical role in the relationship between social justice, job satisfaction and intention to stay.

Leading by Example: Social Work, Wonder, Presence and Team Practice

Eunice Gorman, RN, BSW, MSW, RSW, PhD

The presentation will look at ways we can rekindle the wonder and the ability to be fully present that we relied on in the early days of our careers but may have lost a long the way in the face of budget issues, organizational politics, team tensions, personal life circumstances or other concurrent stressors.

Communication & Leadership

Social Work Leadership in Interprofessional Collaboration and Communication

Miriam Arnheim, MSW, LCSW and Alison Kepple, MSW, LSW

Conversations in the hospital setting between medical service providers, patients and their families, concerning symptom management, goals of treatment, and end of life care can be uncomfortable for providers and confusing for recipients of their care.  Social work leadership can improve communication during family meetings and identify patient understanding, wishes and goals of care. Effective compassionate communication can result in improved quality of life and better end of life care.

Solutions for Successful Inter-Professional Collaboration on the Hospice and Palliative Care Team

Dona J. Reese, PhD, MSW, LCSW

Despite the holistic approach inherent in the hospice and palliative care philosophy, social work may be viewed as ancillary or secondary to medicine and nursing.  Social work, in turn, may have a lack of training and sensitivity about other professions’ expertise and values, and as a result be unprepared to collaborate across the cultural boundary which exists between professions.  Barriers to full utilization of all disciplines on the interdisciplinary team include lack of knowledge of the expertise of other professions, role blurring, conflicts arising from differences between professions in values and theoretical base, negative team norms, client stereotyping, and administrative barriers.

Session 4: Monday, March 12, 2:45pm -3:45pm

Professional Development

Attaining Knowledge and Skills in Palliative and End-of-Life Social Work

Myra Glajchen, BSW, MSW, DWS Cathy Berkman, MSW, PhD, Barbara Head, PhD, CHPN, ACSW, FPCN, and Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW

This symposium will present an overview of a new evidence-based training program to teach core palliative social work competencies to frontline social workers and upstream palliative care and hospice. Highlighting such key social work activities as advance care planning and management of the physical and psychosocial aspects of treatment, panelists will identify the knowledge base, practice skills and barriers to developing expertise in palliative social work. Resources for developing leadership and staying current through innovative interdisciplinary palliative care education, webinars, and train-the-trainer programs will be shared.

Disease-Specific Interventions

On The Borderline: A Team Approach to the Intersection of Borderline Personality Disorder and Advanced Illness

Abigail Nathanson, LCSW, ACS, and Adam Schoenfarber, LCSW

Patients with borderline personality, or even just some of the traits, can be highly vulnerable to being lost in the healthcare system due to difficulties maintaining relationships, trust and containing their own emotional distress. When the psychological functioning of a patient poses challenges to the team’s understanding of success and failure, an opportunity emerges to develop a new paradigm. Social workers play a crucial role in working with patients who have both an advanced illness and borderline personality disorder.

Professional Development

Beyond Self-Care: Building Resiliency for Professional Competence

Beth Barrett, MSW, LCSW

This presentation will address why self-care activities seem inefficient for preventing or managing workplace stressors, challenging client situations, burnout, and compassion fatigue. Participants will analyze traditional self-care techniques and explore how focused attention on values, professional boundaries, personal life philosophy, and advocacy for workplace change can all provide a deeper and more impactful result in our professional competence and compassion satisfaction. Using reflective activities, the participants will also discover additional tools for building resiliency in the workplace as well as in their personal lives.

Professional Development

Feedback Culture: The role of the Social Worker

Lindsay Minter, LCSW, Delia Cortez, LCSW, Christopher Pietras, MD, and Peter Phung, MD, MBA

Feedback is essential to high functioning teams.  At UCLA, the Palliative Care Social Workers (PCSW) are uniquely positioned to provide valuable feedback to members of the interdisciplinary team (IDT). This presentation will discuss feedback culture on the Palliative Care IDT, structuring feedback, and the impact of PCSW feedback.


Legacy Planning with Terminally ill Fathers during Mortal Time Using Jungian Archetypes

Les Gallo-Silver, LCSW-R and Michael O. Weiner

Legacy planning for young children creates urgency in terminally ill parents. For various reasons, this is especially true for fathers. Using Jungian archetypal constructs (the Captain’s rules, Protector’s safety, Educator’s wisdom, Nurturer’s affection and Jester’s playfulness), we create an achievable model for parenting and planning during this time of crisis.

Research in Diversity & Inclusion

The Role of Gender on the Under-Utilization of Hospice Services by African Americans

Talisha Mills, PhD, LCSW

This presentation extends upon the study conducted by Mills in 2017 by and exploring the impact of gender on social workers and nurses’ perceptions towards hospice services. This presentation examines if statistically significant differences exists between male and female non- physician medical providers.


Approaching End of Life Care through a Trauma Informed Lens: Case Studies of Intergenerational Trauma in Older Korean Americans

Kimberly Hong, LMSW and Eunju Lee, LCSW

Trauma informed care, a new paradigm for organizing public mental health and human services,has become increasingly familiar to social workers as an effective and relevant approach to therapeutic work (Maryland Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014). This presentation examines one type of trauma known as “intergenerational trauma” in working with older Korean Americans, as they and their families seek to create a legacy narrative of resilience and understanding-rather than silence, loss and anger.

Grief & Bereavement

From the Other Side of the Bed: a look at professional grief work while actively grieving a personal loss

Jennifer Hollern, LCSW-C

Exploration of two cases of palliative care professionals’ work in providing end of life care and grief counseling while grieving their own recent personal grief of recent loss. Session will include interactive group discussion of cases and ideas for developing interventions for grieving healthcare professionals as well as an exchange of practical advice for grieving providers.

Session 5: Tuesday, March 19, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Research in Diversity & Inclusion

Planning for Care at End of Life:  Do Race, Ethnicity, and Culture Matter?

Cathy Berkman, Xiofang Liu, and Junghee Han

Numerous studies report on racial and ethnic differences in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of older adults with respect to treatment preferences and advance care planning while other studies have shown small or no difference between race and ethnic groups. This symposium includes three presentations: 1) comparing white non-Hispanic, black, and Hispanic decedents on hospice use; and 2 & 3) comparing Mandarin and Cantonese speakers on preferences for life-sustaining treatment at EOL; communication with family and physician about these preferences; knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors toward advance directives and hospice care. Reasons for the language group differences, as well as lack of differences, are discussed.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Labor & Delivery in the Palliative Field: Strengthening the Needs of Teams through Education

Serena Lewis, BA, BSW, MSW

At the heart of integration in palliative care services is the need to share power, with people, families and amongst service providers. The laborious work of dying needs to be complemented with a skilled team well versed in the needs of a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach.

Disease-Specific Interventions

Decreasing Regret: The Power of Dialysis Social Workers

Talisha Mills, PhD, LCSW

Approximately 120,000 individuals were diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) in the United States during 2014 (United States Renal Data System, 2016) and more than 60% of patients stated they regretted starting dialysis treatment (Davison, 2010). There is hospice disparity among ESRD patients when compared to other terminal illnesses (Wachterman, Hailpern, Keating, Tamura, & O’hare, 2018). Therefore, special attention is needed for end of life care options in the specialty of ESRD (Schwarze, Schueller, & Jhagroo, 2018).

Professional Development

A Deep Dive into the National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition

Stacie Sinclair, MPP, LBSW

The new NCP Guidelines continue to define excellence in specialty palliative care while acknowledging that all programs caring for patients with serious illness must incorporate core elements of palliative care. This presentation will review significant changes to the Guidelines and equip attendees to apply the Guidelines to their own work.

Clinical Practice

Debriefings as an effective intervention to decrease moral distress and burnout

Emily Browning, M.Div., MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW, and Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW

Debriefings are an effective intervention to decrease moral distress and burnout among healthcare workers. Facilitating debriefings also provides a leadership opportunity for clinical social workers. This presentation will include participants in a facilitated debriefing and review the details of successful program implementation in two separate institutions.

Disease-Specific Interventions

Psychosocial Complexities of Huntington's Disease: Integration of Palliative Care and Behavioral Health

Jenna Rhodaberger LSW, MSW, ACHP-SW

This case presentation describes a patient with Huntington’s disease and the integration of a palliative care social worker during an inpatient psychiatry admission.  This case emphasizes the need for continuity of care from the multifaceted social services systems in the community. The importance of palliative care social work integration into adult inpatient psychiatry for patients with serious illness with complex social histories and advanced care planning needs will be discussed.


Personality Disorders and the Older Adult: How to successfully deal with challenging behaviors

Shoshanna Root LCSW, AACHP-SW

This is a case study of an 73-year old married female diagnosed with a personality disorder. The presentation will cover her attempts to manage her diagnosis with medications and therapy, and how personality disorders present in older adults. Focus will be given to a discussion centered around the difficulty of how the patient’s diagnosis affected her decisions, especially with the presence of difficult behavior such as suicide threats, violence towards family and staff, and not allowing help in home. Attendees will gain practical suggestions on how to deal with these behaviors and shed light on how personality disorders affect older adults.

Clinical Practice

“But I didn’t know she was going to die!” The struggle to select interventions based on prognosis

Brooke Kaney, LICSW

This presentation will outline the case of a young woman with an immune deficiency disorder with a complex trauma history and challenging behaviors. Given the uncertainty of prognosis it was difficult to determine appropriate interventions and navigate the differing approaches of various providers. I will review how to balance interventions focused on behavior change, life legacy work and grief counseling.

Generating Research Questions in Clinical Practice

Abigail Latimer, LCSW, ACHP-SW

The integration of research into clinical practice can be difficult. Attendees will be provided an example of how a palliative clinical social worker was able to respond clinically and scientifically to nurses’ moral distress. This session will offer suggestions to guide problem formulation and shape research questions based on clinical observations.


Exploring your life-grief journey: An imperative for hospice social workers, led by Sarah Hanson, LSW, MSW

Issues facing an Aging Population

Death with Dignity: Sharing our Views and Strengthening our Voices, led by N. Rose Gaston, MSW, LGSW

Session 6: Tuesday, March 19, 11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Care Across the Continuum

Outpatient Palliative Care Counseling Services: Opportunities, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

Rachael Ryan Sarto, MSW, LICSW, Brooke Kaney, MSW, LICSW, and Rachel Bialostosky, MSW, LICSW

Many Palliative Care programs are developing outpatient clinic services. Our established outpatient program includes 3 clinical social workers serving 4 clinic settings and up to 40 patients per week. Drawing from our practice and encouraging dialogue about various models of practice, we seek to open a lively and rich discussion about the possibilities and benefits of clinic-based Palliative Care social work services.

Grief & Bereavement

Leaving a Legacy: Healing Through Memory-Making

Mary Catherine Dubois, MSW, MHA; Elizabeth V. Robinson, LCSW, and Stacee Feiler, MSW, LCSW

Hospitalization is a stressful and overwhelming time for patients and their families. Through the creation of mementos, this distressing time can be supported by the sharing of stories, the making of lasting memories, and the transforming of sadness into joy and comfort, thus creating an interactive, meaning-based coping intervention offered to patients and families dealing with long hospitalizations, chronic illness, or end of life. This intervention assists patients and their families in finding meaning during a highly stressful event. Learn how the creation of simple, inexpensive mementos promote positive emotions, facilitate sharing and conversations, and offer comfort at distressing moments. 

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Having the Courage to Initiate the Hard Conversation Earlier: Social Work Leadership in End of Life Conversations in the Acute Medical Setting

Elizabeth Goudie, LMSW, and Chaula Negandhi, LCSW-C

Presenters aim to challenge the way end of life conversations are presented to patients and to advocate for them earlier. Social work aids patients and families to frame their questions and concerns to promote conversation in accordance with their individual goals and values. This presentation will promote social work leadership in the multidisciplinary team to facilitate end of life discussions that highlight patient attributes that determine their quality of life.

Ethics & Disease-Specific Interventions

Removal of BiPAP Support for a Dependent ALS Patient:  Case Study and Ethical Analysis

Judith Wood Mintz, LCSW and Barbara Arsenault

This case study and ethical analysis will be presented by both the patient's social worker and his wife, sharing the experience from both perspectives. When the use of a BiPAP to support failing respiration capacity ceases to relieve suffering and becomes a source of suffering by virtue of dependence on it, the clinical and ethical implications of removing this support for the patient, the family, and the hospice care team are complex and profound.  The leadership role of the social worker in facilitating this process will also be discussed.


Caretaking vs Caregiving: Preventing Compassion Fatigue in the Healthcare Setting

Wendy Sontag, MSW, LISW, ACHP-SW

Studies document the need for promoting resiliency in the palliative care and hospice profession.   This interactive presentation will involve participants in dialog about examples of caretaking versus caregiving,  and allow for completion of a Compassion Fatigue Self-Assessment.  Information presented is pertinent to both personal and professional practice.

Research in Alternative Therapies

Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Pain

Kathleen Hurley, LMSW, RYT-200

Traditionally, pain management has been the purview of doctors and nurse practitioners, but social workers can successfully address pain, too, and we should. On an interdisciplinary team, we are perfectly positioned as advocates for patient education and empowerment regarding holistic approaches to symptom management, particularly mindfulness-based interventions for pain.


Examining the Social Worker’s Role in Evaluating Alternative Therapies

Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW

As social work professionals, working with a vulnerable population of seriously ill and/or dying patients, we have an obligation to familiarize ourselves with the evidence based literature on use of alternative therapies. This presentation does not assume that we should be able to have conclusive opinions, but rather encourages a curious and open mind to and aware of possible harm in order to inform our professional advocacy.

Session 7: Tuesday, March 19, 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm

Communication & Decision-Making

Strategies to elevate the role of psychosocial support on an inpatient palliative care team

Brittany Fuentes, MSW, LCSW, J Cody Hufstedler, MTS, BCC, and Jeff Manuel, MD

This presentation will discuss how to build the infrastructure to promote and sustain psychosocial work in a hospital setting.  It will review an early intervention model in the intensive care unit, and detail how narrative therapy offers tools to support patients in the midst of a medical crisis.

Grief & Bereavement

Complicated Grief or Complicating Grief: What is our approach?

Serena Lewis, BA, BSW, MSW

The challenge of addressing grief is heightened by the predominant medicalized approach that people and families are offered in place of supportive, continuous and compassionate care. While often labelled with diagnosis of depression and anxiety many people struggle to self-actualize the paradox of sadness and joy in their lives. The underlying aspects of responding and reacting to grief lies in the biases we hold. This presentation will provide the audience an engaging and interactive process of exploring bias in our roles, structures and overarching policies that can impede the support of many individuals.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

What is a palliative care social worker doing in a heart transplant program?

Adie Goldberg, PhD

Expand your vision of where and with whom you can deliver Palliative Services. Advanced heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US (and worldwide) for both men and women. Palliative care teams are typically not invited to the care team run by cardiologists and cardio-thoracic surgeons: that can change.

Innovative Leadership

Shifting the Paradigm of Advance Care Planning from the Bedside to the Community

Kim Shellenberger,  MSSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW

This presentation will provide participants with strategies to engage the community and healthcare professionals in gaining a foundational knowledge around advance care planning and goals of care conversations. Participants will learn about innovative approaches being utilized to engage community and faith community settings that can be duplicated within their own organizations.

Clinical Practice & Caregiving

The role of Palliative Care Clinical Social Work in Supporting Surrogate Decision-Makers in the ICU Setting

Florence Wright, MSW, LICSW, CAPSW and Sharon Chung, MSW, LICSW

Although surrogate decision-makers are faced with emotionally difficult and medically complex issues, palliative care clinical social workers are uniquely positioned to engage in goals of care discussion, support surrogate decision-making, and ultimately contribute to improved outcomes for both patients and their support systems. This presentation will highlight the challenges faced by surrogate decision-makers in the Intensive Care Unit setting as illustrated in two case studies and will share implications for clinical social work practice.


Concordance Review: Patients' POLST Selections Compared with Care Received

Jennifer Hopping-Winn, MSW, LCSW

We reviewed 300 charts of patients who had died in 2015 and had a POLST conversation prior to death.  We evaluated patients' final care encounter to determine whether the care they received was aligned with their stated wishes.  Interestingly, we learned that 20% of patients changed their care preferences sometime after their POLST conversation and prior to their death.  This finding should inform social workers' advance care planning practices and encourage us to continue the conversation rather than relying on the POLST as the ultimate expression of care preferences.

Special Populations: Teens and Young Adults

The Unmet Needs of Emerging Adults: Caring for Emerging Adults in Palliative and Hospice Care

Erin Iwanusa, LCSW

Emerging adults in hospice care have varying social-emotional needs compared to all other developmental stages. Social workers must adjust their practice in order to serve this unique population. This presentation will review previous research and present a case study on how social workers can support emerging adults in hospice care.


Using the summer camp experience to help children and teens facing life-limiting illnesses

Cara Grosset, MSW, PhD(C), RSW, CT and Crystal Rutherford, MSW, RSW, CT

Exploration of literature regarding the benefits and challenges of providing summer camp opportunities for children with life-limiting illnesses. Discussion will include activities, the power of feeling “normal,” medical care at camp, and remembering those who have died. The presenter will draw on her own experiences as a camp volunteer.

Education & Leadership

Starting, Growing, and Sustaining a Palliative and End-of-Life Care Specialization in an MSW Program

Cathy Berkman, PhD, MSW, Susan Gerbino, PhD, LCSW, Karen Kayser, PhD, MSW Virge Luce, LCSW-R, ACSW & Alyssa Middleton

The purpose of this workshop is to provide information and practical guidance for developing, implementing, and maintaining a palliative and end-of-life care specialization in an MSW program. Three different models of this specialization will be described, including the program components, the criteria and process for student selection and selection of field sites, the impetus for founding these programs, their mission, obtaining administrative and faculty support, how these programs have grown, how they are sustained, and the challenges they faced along the way.


Information Seeking Behaviors of Medical Social Workers: Social Media Presence in Resource Acquisition for Hospice Patients, led by Angela Alvarado, MIS, MS, LBSW-IPR

Building Cultural Bridges to Pediatric Palliative Care, led by Heather Feehan MSW, LISW-S

From Hospice Through Bereavement: What Information is Helpful to Those Close to the Dying? Led by Christina Kulp, LCSW, ACHP-SW

 For information on plenary sessions and keynote speakers, please visit the 2019 Plenaries page