2020 Pre-Conference Workshops

** Save an additional $25 on any workshop if you register using code SAVE25 at checkout. **

Sunday, March 15, 2020 

Each year, SWHPN offers two sessions of pre-conference workshops on the Sunday prior to the conference: a morning session from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and an afternoon session from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.*

(Please note: For attendees of Session 2C, "Educating Front-Line Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (ESPEC)", this pre-conference session will last 4 hours, from 12:30pm - 4:30pm, and will include a box lunch).

These interactive, hands-on workshops are designed to offer the chance to learn from leaders in the field in a smaller, more intimate learning environment over an extended time period. We're excited to offer an even better selection of workshops this year, in an expanded format!

Attendees can receive up to 3 CEUs per workshop.

Pre-conference workshops cost $125 each, or $225 when you register for both morning and afternoon sessions (save $25 if you attend both sessions!). Lunch is included for those who attend both morning and afternoon sessions.

Pre-conference workshop registration is separate from Monday/Tuesday General Assembly registration.


Pre-Conference AM Workshops: Session One

Sunday, March 15 | 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Session 1A: Improving Veteran Centered Practice in End-of-Life Care

Led by:

  • Louisa Daratsos, PhD, LCSW
  • Karlynn BrintzenhofeSzoc, PhD, MSW
  • Ryan Weller, LCSW, APHSW-C
  • Jason Malcolm, LCSW

Track: Specific Populations

Learning Level: Accessible to all Levels


Much has been discussed about veteran identity and the end-of-life experience. Offering veteran centered care appears intuitively appropriate, but are these endeavors informed by research? Do these veteran centered programs adequately address the “so what” question in ways which make sense to palliative care and hospice social workers who are responsible to delivering this care to veterans and their families? The National Association of Social Workers developed standards of social work practice focused on the military, veterans, and family members. Wootan identified schools of social work that offer some level of educational opportunities focusing on the military, veterans, and their families. This is an important and valuable shift, especially in palliative care and hospice social work, as service-related exposures put some veterans at greater risk for terminal cancer and other life limiting diseases than the general population.

As palliative care and hospice social workers who work with veterans, we respond to a long list of questions continuously: Are there differences among war cohorts? Are there differences among members of the various branches of service? Are there differences between male and female veterans? Are there differences among veterans with multiple life limiting diseases? Are there differences between veterans who experienced combat and those who did not? The questions keep coming, and until recently there has been little research to shed light on possible explanations and guidance for clinical practice for veterans. This Pre-Conference Workshop will review the latest research on veteran identity and help participants apply the findings to end-of-life social work practice. This session will also include a detailed focus on accessing EOL benefits for veterans. When social workers appreciate why there is an emphasis on the veteran population, their efforts to bring veteran centered care into their practice will improve.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the importance of including veteran status in the psychosocial assessment
  2. Identify one theory of veteran identity
  3. Identify resources and interventions to facilitate connecting veterans to potentially eligible veteran services

Session 1B: Enhancing Your Clinical Skills through Effective Communication

Led by:

  • Stacy Remke, LICSW, APHSW-C
  • Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW, APHSW-C

Track: Clinical Practice

Learning Level: Accessible for all Levels


Hospice and palliative care social workers are challenged to provide high quality and focused communication in a fast paced and pressured interdisciplinary practice environment. Communication has been identified as a key competency for health care professionals, especially in palliative care. Recently communication has emerged as a key area for training and improvement within palliative care practice. While social workers have expertise in communication skills, role complexity and inter-professional team dynamics can add challenges to effective communication.
This workshop will explore current best practices in palliative care communication and implications for social work practice, through interactive lecture, case-based discussion, and small group skills practice. This workshop will also offer a synthesis of social work knowledge, skills, and practice considerations with a new emphasis coming from medicine and nursing practice toward a shared understanding of best practices in client centered and team focused communication. Resources for additional learning will be shared.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to describe three essential components of good communication in palliative care
  2. Attendees will be able to demonstrate two skills reflecting current best practices in communication
  3. Attendees will be able to discuss goals for communication in palliative care

Session 1C: Social Work Leadership to Expand and Protect Palliative Care Access at the State and Local Levels

Led by:

  • Stacie Sinclair, MPP, CSW
  • Judy Thomas, JD
Track: Policy and Advocacy
Learning Level: Accessible for All Levels
With the growing recognition of states’ power to improve access to palliative care, it is critical that social workers identify opportunities to support the development of sound policy in their state. In this preconference workshop, presenters will describe the importance of state-level activity in expanding palliative care access and challenge attendees to become involved. By the end of the session, participants will have the tools and resources to connect with palliative care champions in their state and identify feasible and impactful policy recommendations for further development. Attendees who select this session are encouraged to bring their colleagues and/or other palliative care champions from their state.
Part I: Review of the overarching policy landscape, with special attention paid to 1) the critical role that social workers can play in advancing state and local initiatives; and 2) key state policy levers, recent and ongoing state palliative care policy activities, and new recommendations for further action.
Part II: Discuss opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned in establishing and maintaining a coalition to support palliative care action.
Part III: Begin conducting your own state level needs assessment with support from the meeting facilitators and supplemented by materials from the Center to Advance Palliative Care, the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, the National Academy for State Health Policy, and others.
Part IV: Reconvene to share action plans and next steps!
Learning Objectives:
  1. Attendees will be able to describe the importance of state-level activity in expanding palliative care access for patients with serious illness and discuss themes from current palliative care policy initiatives.
  2. Attendees will be able to describe the necessity of social work leadership and engagement in state level palliative care policy initiatives.
  3. Attendees will be able to describe the role and value of coalition building in advancing state-level palliative care public policy and practical steps social workers can take to influence policy in their state.

Session 1D: Interventions and Innovations in Rural Hospice and Palliative Care Delivery

Led by:
  • Liz Anderson, DSW, LCSW
  • Carlota A. Durazo, LCSW
  • Arlene Cramer, FNP-BC, AHPCN
  • Jamie Jensen, PhD, MSW
  • Brian Mistler, PhD
Track: Clinical Practice
Learning Level: All Levels
This interdisciplinary pre-conference session will explore the unique challenges in treating patients that live in rural areas and may lack easy access to hospital facilities, specialty or palliative care, support groups, and more. Research shows that hospice care is vastly underused for residents of rural areas, even when controlled for age, diagnosis, income and insurance. Cultural nuances are often misunderstood by providers, resulting in cultural biases that can contribute to care that does not meet the unique values and preferences of the patients. Without a palliative care connection for these people, and family members may not be involved in conversations about end of life needs, which is concerning considering rural patient rely heavily on family members, who often experience higher caregiver burden and strain. This puts people who live in rural areas at risk for aggressive treatment that is incongruent to their own values and preferencesThis pre-conference session will demonstrate innovative strategies for creating engagement for patients and family members to better connect with one another, as well as specific interventions to address issues of access and capacity constraints that illuminate pragmatic principles that empower people to live and die well. Through discussion and case studies, participants will be able to evaluate these services by identifying advantages and disadvantages in using this approach with an interdisciplinary, and be able to consider social work implications when implementing such services among a rural population.
Learning Objectives:
  1. Attendees will be able to understand the challenges facing patients living in rural areas when accessing palliative and hospice services.
  2. Attendees will be able to better understand the cultural nuances present in rural populations about hospice and palliative care.
  3. Attendees can better engage patients and families in rural settings and provide important interventions. 

Pre-Conference AM Workshops: Session Two

Sunday, March 15 | 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Session 2A: Digital Storytelling as a Bereavement Intervention: A Narrative Tool for Clinical Social Work Practice

Led by:
  • Abigail Rolbiecki, PhD, MPH, MSW
  • Karla Washington, PhD, LCSW
Track: Innovations in Clinical Care
Learning Level: Suitable for All Levels
Description:The art of storytelling has long been used as a supportive intervention for people who have experienced adverse life events, allowing them to process emotions through rich narratives. It is argued that having a physical artifact like a photo, a script, or Digital Story can facilitate the storytelling process, and thus the sharing of emotional experiences, by breaking the verbal barrier and promoting open communication. Digital Storytelling (DS), a multimedia narrative intervention, has been used in pediatric palliative care as a legacy-making intervention designed to prepare family members and patients for a death, but it can also be used to help patients and families communicate their feelings about the death. This process may contribute to better overall quality of life for patients and families, as well as reduced anxiety about the death.
Digital Storytelling has recently been explored as a social work bereavement intervention, specifically designed to reduce grief intensity and promote meaning-making among bereaved family members.The purpose of this highly interactive, half-day pre-con is to introduce participants to DS through a hands-on process of them developing their own digital story regarding professional meaning and identity. Participants will spend the session receiving an overview of meaning-making theory, DS ethics, and training in script development. Participants will end with a discussion regarding the clinical implications of this tool in social work practice. Participants registered for this pre-conference will need to bring one of the following devices with them: an iPad or iPhone with the iMovie application pre-loaded; an android phone or tablet with the WeVideo application pre-loaded; or an Apple or PC computer.
Please note: this workshop is limited to the first 15 participants who register. 


Session 2B: Emerging Trends in Pediatric Practice: A Workshop on Structuring Your Role to Improve Care for Patients and Their Families

Led by:
  • Stacy Remke, MSW, LICSW, APHSW-C
  • Adam Schoenfarber, LCSW, APHSW-C
  • Allie Shukraft, MSW, MAT, APHSW-C
  • Melissa Baguza,

This interactive workshop will review the 8 domains of palliative care from the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th Edition and examine how social workers can utilize the domains to help clarify their role for themselves, their teams, and their patients and families, as well as to guide assessments and interventions. Presenters will also discuss shared-decision-making and Explanatory Models of working with families, exploring different methods of applying social work practice within the pediatric palliative care setting. Two complex cases will be presented which engage complex ethical issues in two very different cases of pediatric neurological death. Participants will be asked to apply earlier skills reviewed to these cases as well as to identify which skills used by the presenting social worker fall into which domain or model. Finally, participants will be asked to engage in their own personal reflection by engaging in a frank discussion about professional boundaries, as well as participating in a few creative exercises.

Presenters will provide tools as well as worksheets that participants can use to apply skills learned within the workshop.

Learning Objectives:

Participants will:

  1. Formulate a list of culturally sensitive strategies for use in their practice.
  2. Evaluate and navigate their own personal and professional boundaries.
  3. Compare and contrast two ethically complex cases.
  4. Apply several different models from instruction to these cases and evaluate their usefulness in each case.

Session 2C: Educating Front-Line Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care: (ESPEC): A New Training Program - SOLD OUT

Led by:

  • Myra Glajchen, MSW, DSW, APHSW-C
  • Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, MA, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FNAP
  • Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW
  • Christine Wilkins, PhD, LCSW


This interactive symposium will present an overview of a new evidence-informed curriculum—Educating Front-Line Social Workers in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (ESPEC)—that teaches core palliative social work competencies for frontline health social workers.  The goal of this pre-conference symposium is to present an overview of the new training program, engage with a group of highly knowledgeable professionals for the purpose of feedback, and identify the first set of potential trainers. ESPEC’s rationale, highlights, key social work activities, and instructional learning techniques will be presented.  Faculty will identify the knowledge base, practice skills, and barriers faced by frontline health social workers in their integration of palliative social work principles. In addition, resources for developing leadership and becoming ESPEC trainers will be shared.

Available scholarships for this session have all been assigned. However, members of SWHPN who are willing to attend the pre-conference symposium, complete a six-hour online training program, and provide formative feedback to finalize the ESPEC program prior to the national launch are still welcome to attend.  
If you are interested in this role, please send an email with your CV to [email protected]

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify best practices for frontline health social workers to integrate key palliative care principles into their clinical practice;
  2. Recognize the knowledge base and practice skills necessary to pursue competency in palliative social work;
  3. Identify skills necessary for training, leadership and increased professional visibility in palliative social work;
  4. Participate in a new training program for social workers in palliative and end of life care as either attendees or trainers.

Please note: This session will last 4 hours, from 12:30pm - 4:30pm, and will include a box lunch.