Session 1: Monday, March 12, 9:45 - 10:45 am

Innovation & Research

Digital Storytelling as a Social Work Intervention for Bereaved Family Members             

    Abigail Rolbiecki, PhD, MSW, MPH

   Karla Washington, PhD, LCSW

 This presentation will summarize findings from a pilot study of a Digital Storytelling (DS) intervention for bereaved family members, as a way to improve the social work evidence base; describe key steps in the DS intervention; and discuss plans for future research. 

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Through Our Lens: A Photovoice Project with Teens Who Have a Parent with Cancer        

    Melissa Lundquist, MSW, LGSW, PhD 

This presentation describes an interprofessional collaboration using a photovoice project involving teens living with parental cancer in their family. Supported by a social worker and a teacher, a group of 12 teens worked with a professional photographer over a seven-week period to learn specific photography skills that enabled them to self-reflect and creatively express their experiences facing parental cancer.

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Communication & Decision-Making 

Advance Care Planning: Redesigning Patient-Centered Care                                              

  Christine Wilkins, PhD, LCSW

This session will present a strategy for implementing an enterprise-wide advance planning program that promotes quality conversations across the lifespan and illness trajectory. The development of a system re-design that establishes advance care planning as a key component of patient centered care will be emphasized.

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Placing Patients First -3 years of Patient Centered Care Conferences                                

    Christina Kulp, LCSW, ACHP-SW

This presentation will cover the original concept of the patient centered care conference (SWHPN 2015) and outline the process of change and growth over the past 3-year period.  Attendees will learn how to combine the interdisciplinary group with family meetings, the importance of conference structure, how to advocate for social work facilitation and how quality improvement is ongoing.

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Education & Professional Development 

Palliative Care Social Work Champion Program: An Evolving Model for Training Social Workers in Generalist Palliative Care 

  Dory Hottensen, LCSW 

The Palliative Care Social Work and Nursing Champion Program was initiated 6 years ago at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center in order to provide a sustainable and comprehensive training model for front line nurses and social workers in the hospital setting.  This presentation will present an overview of the evolution of the program and discuss lessons learned and plans for the future.


 Educating our Future Colleagues: Creating an MSW Practicum   

    Christa Burke, MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW

Taking on an MSW Student can be a daunting prospect for busy social workers in palliative care and there is little guidance about how to set up a practicum that addresses the CSWE competencies.  This presentation will discuss the role of the field education in the development of future palliative care social workers, identify current CSWE competencies, share one program’s framework of an MSW Practicum and the resources that have been created.

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Innovation & Research

 Working with Non-Physical Suffering: Results from an Exploratory Study   

 Maxxine Rattner, MSW, RSW

 While relieving suffering is the primary aim of palliative care, how clinicians navigate the non-physical suffering they encounter in their day-to-day work with patients and families, and the effect of doing so, have been understudied. Study insights with significant implications for clinical practice will be shared.


 Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy: An Introductory Review in the Treatment of Existential Distress   
Jordan Nichols, LCSW, ACHP-SW

Join an engaging discussion on Individual Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy and its application in treating existential distress with patients coping with severe illness. Adaptations of the intervention for use in different hospice and palliative care settings will also be addressed.

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Special Populations; Innovation & Research

 LGBTQIQA-Inclusive Hospice and Palliative Care   

Rhonda Davis, MDiv, MSW, LCSW

 This presentation offers specific ways that social workers and their organizations can improve the end-of-life and bereavement care of LGBT individuals and families, through increasing self-awareness of bias about homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender issues of LGBTQ patients and families in end-of-life and bereavement.

click here to  print1  print2  print3 print4 print5 print6  print7  session materials


"It's my Body!": Assisting Adolescents and Their Families Through Joint Decision Making in Life Sustaining Treatments   
Caitlin Scanlon, MSW

Adolescence is a time in which individuals are learning to navigate their autonomy, yet our medical system looks to parents to make final and “official” medical decisions until age 18.  Palliative care providers are uniquely positioned to work with patients and families to elicit and advocate for an adolescent, while aligning their goals of care with that of their guardians’. 

Education & Professional Development

Building Moral Communities for Reflection and Dialogue

   David Browning, MSW, LICSW 

   Susan Gerbino, PhD, LCSW

 Moral communities are settings in which the moral and ethical concerns of everyday practice can be brought to light in an atmosphere of safety and mutual respect.  The presenters offer a theoretical and practical framework for the creation of moral communities followed by examples of how they have worked to create a variety of such spaces and places throughout their careers.

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Diversity & Inclusion, Ethics / Policy & Advocacy, Special Populations & Cultures

 Living on the Fringe: Palliative Social Workers as Advocates from Practice to Policy and Beyond   

 Myra Glajchen, DSW

 Gary Stein, JD, MSW

 Donna Zhukovsky, MD 

To ensure that social workers maintain their unique expertise in psychosocial care planning while staying true to their mission of providing access to high quality palliative care and hospice services, it is essential to identify best practices in clinical assessment, clinical intervention and public policy.  In this session, three presenters will highlight the issues confronting socially disenfranchised patients at end of life, including policies and procedures for decision-making when the patient is elderly, lacking in capacity or unrepresented in the health system, as well as the demographics and risk factors for homeless patients.

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Innovation and Research 

Hands-on Palliative Care: Integrating Massage Therapy for Palliative Care Patients in Pain

   Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW

   Lauren Cates, LMT, S4OM

   Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

 To expand services available to hospitalized palliative care patients in pain, we developed a partnership to provide massage therapy with the goal of demonstrating feasibility and value. This presentation will review the role of massage therapy in patients with serious illness and present findings from our pilot study.

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

Special Populations: Pediatrics

 "What can I tell my children?" Supporting palliative and hospice patients with young children   

    Katie Aliberti, MA, MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW

 This session will present an overview of the unique needs that parents and children have when one parent is facing a life-limiting illness. In addition to considering how to support patients, we will also discuss best practices for interventions with minor children.

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Communication & Decision-Making

 Complainers:  Who? When? Why? What? How?   

Skitch Ferguson, MSW, MBA

 Preserving human integrity with patients suffering chronic and life ending illnesses requires clinicians understand when a closer look is needed when a patient complains.  If a patient has been labeled a complainer the social worker must resist the stereotype and pay attention, providing empathy and understanding in the complex systemic environment of palliative and end of life care.  Social workers must involve the patient while understanding the occurrence of pain and discomfort in the disease, somatization and countertransference.

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Education / Prof Development

Verifying What We Do: Results of a Job Analysis and Development of a Certification Program for Hospice and Palliative Social Workers

 Barbara Head, PhD, CHPN, FPCN 

 Bonika Peters, MPH

 The process and value of developing an evidence-based certification for hospice and palliative social workers and finding from a nationwide job analysis of hospice and palliative social workers will be presented.  Participants will be invited to write test items and discuss certification criteria.

Special Populations

Honoring Our Veterans: A Special Project to Recognize the Needs of Vets   

    Wendy Sontag, MSW, LISW

 Veterans often seek healthcare services outside the VA system.  This presentation highlights a project for recognizing veterans’ service.  The program also includes professional education about the unique needs of vets and clinical considerations when caring for them and their families.

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Masculinity, Manhood, and Manliness: The Psychosocial Challenges for Prostate Cancer Survivors   

Les Gallo-Silver, ACSW, LCSW-R

 Penile shortening or retraction occurs as a side effect of surgical removal of the prostate gland and disruption of the nerve and blood supply to the penis. Men treated with hormonal manipulation experience diminished testicular volume in the scrotal sack making it seem to shrink from pre-treatment size. This presentation explores the psychosocial interventions and re-interpretation of manliness and masculinity in a group of men treated for prostate cancer who have experienced penile shortening and loss of testicular volume.

Clinical Practice

 “Is it because you think we can't pay?” When Culture and Communication Clash at End of Life   

     Susannah Plocher, LGSW, MPAff

     Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW

 This case study will review three cases of acutely ill Nigerian women who received care in the surgical intensive care unit at a major, tertiary care academic medical center, and the ultimately unsuccessful attempts of the medical, palliative, and social work care teams to guide conversations with their families around end of life.

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Medical and Social Factors Contributing to Length of Stay in the Hospital   

   Maggie Gavin, MSW,  

   Myra Glajchen, DSW

 This presentation discusses the impact of medical conditions, such as number of co-morbid conditions and diagnosis, and social factors, such as age, living arrangement, and educational level, on length of stay in the hospital. Topics covered include prior research, methods and findings of this secondary data analysis, and implications for social work practice, particularly in hospital and palliative care settings.

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Clinical Practice; Interdisciplinary Collaboration

All We Need is a Little Hope: The Therapeutic Power of Hope as an End-of-Life Intervention   

Stephanie Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW

Allison Gibson, PhD, MSW

Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW

This presentation will focus on hope as an intervention in end of life care and discuss strategies to define, redefine and nurture hope through the stages of a terminal illness and within our clinical practice.  Two case examples will be used to demonstrate the use of hope within the therapeutic relationship.

Innovation & Research

Hospice and African-American Referrals: Perceptions of Non-Physician Medical Providers

   Talisha Mills, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW

This presentation presents the findings from a study exploring the differences that exist in perceptions held towards hospice services between African American and Caucasian non-physical medical providers, and includes differences in referral rates, physician bias, and the effect of interactions when the provider and patients were of different races from the majority served.

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Education / Prof Development

Making Trauma Work Sustainable:  Shifting the Paradigm from Passive to Active

   Amanda Moment, MSW, LICSW

   Catherine Arnold, MSW, LICSW

 Creating a sustainable work/life balance is an ongoing, interactive process that requires self-reflection and monitoring.  In this interactive session, we will explore ways in which we can work toward greater sustainability in our practice and in our lives through building targeted insight and exploring management techniques for the emotional and often trauma-laden work we do.

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Ethics / Advocacy

 Moral Distress - There IS something we can do about it!

   Emily Browning, M.Div., MSW, LCSW, ACHP-SW

   Lori Eckel,  LCSW, ACHP-SW

Healthcare workers who find their morals, values and ethics compromised in their work are at risk for experiencing moral distress.  Inter-professional efforts to understand and treat moral distress may aid healthcare workers in staying healthy while also providing quality patient care.

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 Session 3: Monday, March 12, 1:30pm - 2:30pm

Special Populations: Geriatrics

Revising the Palliative Care Biopsychosocialspiritualsexual Assessment for Elders   

    Louisa Daratsos, PhD, LCSW

    Karlynn Brintzenhofe Szoc, PhD, MSW

Based on the context of the unique needs of older adults needing palliative care, those who have a military history and those who do not, it is time to revise psychosocial assessments.  The revised assessment will include a comprehensive geriatric assessment (CGA) and a military history assessment. Given that rates of cancer are increasing among those over age 65, this presentation uses older adults and cancer to illustrate the imperative to revise psychosocial assessments to meet the needs of this population.

Palliative Care Disparities: Exploring Barriers to Access and Use of Services in Diverse Older Adults   

    Dan Gardner, PhD, LCSW 

    Meredith Doherty

 This session describes a community-based participatory research study exploring illness experiences and PC access and utilization among diverse, medically-underserved community-dwelling elders. We present findings from a systematic community needs assessment and current progress on a three-year NIH-funded study seeking to advance understanding of barriers and reduce PC disparities.

Policy & Advocacy

 Helping policy makers create death with dignity policies   

   Roxroy Reid, PhD, LCSW

 This presentation will compare and contrast how suffering brought on by the black plague of 14th – 15thcentury Europe was instrumental in changing the religious attitudes of people about death and dying; with suffering brought on by the AIDS virus in the 1980’s and 1990’s when such suffering was mitigation by new drugs that arrested AIDS. The presentation will also provide an update of the current Death with Dignity movement across the U.S.

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Addressing Practicalities: Integrating a Medical Legal Partnership in the care of the Palliative Care Population   

  Catherine Rogers, LMSW

  Kate Mahrer Rogers, LMSW

 One aspects of patients’ lives that often causes the most distress among PCSW is ensuring that patients have completed the legal paperwork to ensure that their family will be cared for after their death. This session will share how the Medical University of South Carolina addressed those concerns by starting a Medical Legal Partnership to serve patients in Palliative Care.

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Professional Development

 Modeling Healthy Behavior: Validating the Social Work Leadership Role in a Growing Palliative Care World   

   Rebecca Freeman, LMSW, ACHP-SW

   Dana Ribeiro Miller, M.Div., LMSW, ACHP-SW

 Palliative social workers are best positioned to lead and foster healthy, working team dynamics. This course will explore the assertion of the palliative social work leadership role as well as techniques for identifying unhealthy team dynamics and dysfunction as well as strategies for creating healthy teams in order to positively impact patient care.      

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 Training Champions: An Interprofessional Educational Program Designed to Promote Palliative Care as Standard of Care   

   Frances Eichholz Heller, LMSW, ACHP-SW

 NY Presbyterian is committed to integrating palliative care needs into the treatment of all patients. This session will review their Interdisciplinary Palliative Resource Champion Program, which was designed to train nurses, social workers and physician assistants to bridge the gap between generalist level and specialist level palliative care to help achieve this institutional goal.

Clinical Practice; Interdisciplinary Collaboration

 We're Not Trained for This: The Role of Social Workers in Enhancing Palliative Care Clinic Practices for Patients with Substance Use Disorders

Erin Bagwell, LCSW

 Substance use disorders are a rising epidemic; how can palliative care providers rely on their social work expertise to alleviate their patients’ suffering?  This presentation will utilize case studies to highlight the integral role of social workers in treating substance use disorders along the continuum of palliative medicine.

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Clinical Practice

 Palliative Sedation: What is it and what is my role as a hospice social worker?

N. Rose Gaston, MSW, LGSW 

Jill Randall, MSW, LICSW

Palliative sedations (PS) is the lowering of patient consciousness utilizing medications to relieve intolerable suffering from refractory symptoms.  Since PS causes unconsciousness until death, numerous ethical, psychosocial, and spiritual issues need to be considered.  This presentation will review the development of a psychosocial assessment for PS and give participants the opportunity to discuss their practice experiences related to PS.

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Special Populations

 Dying Without a Home- How Hospice and Palliative Care Can Grapple with Homelessness   

Adam Schoenfarber,LCSW

Pam Adams, LMSW, ACHP-SW

People die as they live.  On one night in January of 2017, 62,692 New York City residents slept in a shelter setting, and many of them had advanced and terminal illnesses.  Homelessness presents complex practical, clinical, and ethical challenges for hospice and palliative care practitioners.  This session will examine cultures of chronic homelessness and how clinicians and agencies can care for this population.

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Innovation & Research

 Taking Bereavement Support Online 

Andrea Warnick, RN, MA

Shelly Cory, MA

 Grievers often encounter major obstacles when seeking support, including stigma, financial, temporal, and geographic constraints.  Children are particularly poorly supported in grief because best practice for supporting children’s grief isn’t common knowledge.  This session will explore two new interactive psycho-educational bereavement tools as key resources for family care and professional development.

Clinical Practice

 Anticipatory Grief and Complex Bereavement Counseling Issues for "Orphaned" Adult Children   

Les Gallo-Silver, ACSW, LCSW-R

Michael O. Weiner, LCSW

 Many grieving adults comment that they “feel like an orphan” following the death of their mother, alone and rudderless.  The mother and her mothering are retained in some ways through the nurturing of others, yet there is often an element of misery and hopelessness in these adult “children.”  Understanding these adult children is necessary for social workers to assist with family and patient well-being, planning, and adjustment to the hospice and palliative care treatment environment.  This workshop will cover a variety of parent-child relational dynamics that challenge the anticipatory grief and complicated or prolonged bereavement process for young, middle-aged, and older adults.

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

Professional Development

 Hospice social workers' perception of being valued by members of the interdisciplinary teach and the association with job satisfaction   

Suzanne Marmo, PhD, LCSW

Cathy Berkman, PhD

Understanding hospice social workers’ perception of being valued by other members of the interdisciplinary team may help to better explain team dynamics and how this contributes to hospice social work job satisfaction. Results of a study of hospice social workers will describe: 1) perception of being valued by members of the team; and 2) how this is associated with job satisfaction.

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 Job Satisfaction and Intent to Stay among Hospice and Palliative Social Workers   

 Alyssa Middleton, MSW

 Results from a nationwide study of hospice and palliative social workers evaluating job satisfaction and intent to stay in the field will be presented. Participants also reported job stressors, how employers could improve their job and self-care activities.  Suggestions for improvement based on the findings will be discussed.

 Special Populations: Pediatrics

 Evaluating the Experiences of Social Workers in a Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship

   Arden O'Donnell, MPH, MSW, LICSW

   Nicholas Purol, MSW, LICSW

   Marsha Joselow, MSW, LICSW

The Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship at Children's Hospital Boston is in its 13th year and is the only Social Work Fellowship in Pediatric Palliative Care in the US. This presentation will link the results of a qualitative study exploring the experiences of 10 social workers who participated in an interdisciplinary pediatric palliative care fellowship program with the evolution of the fellowship and the resulting effects on the personal and professional development of the alumni.  Key themes focus on the experience of the social worker fellows and the effect the fellowship had on the social worker’s perception of skills, leadership and identity development.

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 Psychosocial Collaboration for Hospice and Palliative Care Patients in a Children's Hospital 

  Martha Schermer, LICSW, ACHP-SW 

  Nicole Helland, MSW, LICSW

This presentation will discuss how two social workers (one unit-based and one palliative care) collaborate while caring for palliative care patients in a PICU.  We will offer practical tips on forging successful relationships with social work colleagues when palliative care becomes a part of the care plan.

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Innovation & Research

 Sorry for Your Loss: An Analysis of Grief Experience Narratives Posted Online   

   Allison Gibson, PhD, MSW

   Andrew Keppler, MPA

Technology is changing many aspects of our daily lives, including how we grieve. This presentation will discuss the findings from a study that explores publicly-available online videos of individuals sharing their experiences with grief after the loss of a loved one. Through the process of content analysis, the presenters will discuss content among the messages, and what professionals can learn from these messages when assisting clients in the grieving process.

 The SAGE Program: Social Work Innovation in Primary Palliative Care   

   Catherine Arnold, MSW, LICSW

   Dr. Josh Lakin, MD

 This presentation will explore benefits and challenges of the SAGE Program, a social work-led, interdisciplinary primary palliative care program targeting seriously ill patients across care transitions.  We will include an overview of primary and specialty palliative care activities, examples of goals of care conversations, and exploration of tested, dynamic primary palliative care training program.

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Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Understanding Care Transitions for Direct Care Workers in End-of-Life Care   

    Stephanie Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW

    Nancy Kusmaul, PhD, LMSW

    Toni D. Dester, LLMSW

The Direct Care Worker (DCW) known as a Home Health Aide (HHA) or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), are deeply involved and provide consistent care to patients and families in end-of-life care while forming meaningful relationships. What is less understood is the experience of DCWs who provide frequent and intimate care, during a disruption of services, such as a live discharge or patient death. This presentation will provide participants with an understanding of how DCWs view their role during these care transitions.


 Encountering the Mystical in Clinical Practice

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

   Laura Lewis, MSW, RSW PhD

   Cara Grosset, BSW, MSW, PhD candidate

   Crystal Rutherford, BSW, MSW, RSW 

As social workers, we often come in contact with people who have encountered the mystical or reported extraordinary or unexplained experiences during their time with the dying, or after their loved one has died.  We are challenged to look very closely at what we believe, how best to support and how to incorporate these experiences in our clinical work with both those who have experienced the extraordinary and those who long for such encounters but have not had them.

Care Across the Continuum; Innovation & Research

 What is Quality Care in Serious Illness? Forging New Models from Evidence-based Outcomes 

 Deb Waldrop, PhD, LMSW

 Susan Enguidanos, PhD, MPH

 John Cagle, MSW, PhD

 This symposium will focus on current policy driven efforts to improve the delivery of health care services and patient health outcomes in serious illness through the development of quality measures and patient centered outcomes research.  Opportunities for social work involvement will be explored.

click here  and handout 1  and here  to print session materials

Education / Prof Development

 National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care

 Gwynn Sullivan, MSN

 Katherine Brandt, MS

 This session will provide an overview of the development of the National Consensus Project (NCP) Clinical Practice Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care, 4th edition, as well as describe the Guideline domains.  Using case examples, presenters will discuss practice strategies for social workers implementing the Guidelines in community-based palliative care settings.

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Diversity & Inclusion, Special Populations & Cultures

Providing Psycho-social Care Across Linguistic and Cultural Barriers by Effective Partnering with Medical Interpreters

Jessica Goldhirsch, LCSW, MSW, MPH 

Fred Chin, professional Burmese, Mandarin, Cantonese & Toishanese interpreter

 This highly participatory workshop will help you to unpeel the layers of culture and language that often challenge social workers when we provide care to our patients and families speaking other languages and comfortable in very different cultures.  Through case studies, discussion and role plays, we will explore how to work with medical interpreters as fellow team members and as active cultural mediators during challenging encounters.  The challenges of interpreting and explaining health care proxies, MOLST forms, code status, end of life planning, and other culturally specific and emotionally laden terms will be discussed from the perspective of our foreign born patients.

click  here  and here  handout 1   handout 2    handout 3  to print session materials

  Professional Development

 Training Social Workers to Take Leadership in Renal Advance Care Planning: Lessons Learned   

Joan Berzoff, MSW, Ed.D 

Jenny Kitsen, MSW

Renal social workers are rarely trained to integrate palliative care.  A training program was developed for staff enrolled in a three-year PCORI study to increase advance care planning in outpatient dialysis clinics.  Coursework and supervision were provided.  Organizational and educational challenges to social work leadership will be discussed.

Session 5: Tuesday, March 13, 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Special Populations

 “What's Your Biggest Problem Today?” Findings from the Intersection of Palliative and Complex Care in a Safety-Net Setting 

  Sarah Stroe, MSW, ASW

 Patients with personal histories of poverty, homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse require particular training and attention that is often forgotten or lost to other needs in a healthcare setting. This presentation will provide focused and dedicated attention and exploration of these needs to give clinicians a more robust comprehension of how to best serve these patients when they present with palliative care needs.


A Case Study on Homelessness and Dying: The Relationship between Palliative Care and Medical Respite   

   Jessica Savara, MSW, CSWA

 The experience of dying while living on the street brings unique challenges. Medical respite programs across the nation have traditionally provided individuals experiencing homelessness with short-term, residential supports post-hospitalization. This presentation offers a case study and discussion regarding medical respite as a platform for Palliative Care with this population.

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Redefined Boundaries: When Palliative Care Hits Home   

Danielle Jonas, LCSW

During the course of our individual careers, we will all inevitably face circumstances where a loved one is critically ill, approaching end of life or actively dying. During these instances, we are often faced with an unavoidable collision of the various roles that we play in our lives and this experience can be challenging to navigate. This presentation will facilitate a discussion about what this experience is like and will explore methods of self-care that can be used to foster resilience and coping.


 Finding Our Voice a Therapeutic Approach with Palliative Care Decision Making   

 Victoria Cerone, MSW, LCSW

 Healthcare providers, in general, are at risk for stressful experiences in which personal values and morals can be challenged. In palliative care, with the intrinsic complexity of the work involving life altering events, resources to maintain an adaptive resilience confront an even greater challenge. This presentation will provide support and insight for healthcare clinicians to process their emotions and facilitate strength based and cognitive approaches regarding moral distress.

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Professional Development

 A Theoretical Approach to Developing Palliative Care Educational Videos   

  Susan Enguidanos, PhD, MPH

  Deborah Hoe, MA

  Anna Rahman, PhD

 This session presents information about an evidence-based, theoretically driven approach to educating consumers about palliative care.  We also will discuss the need for the project and how our approach to consumer education contrasts with traditional approaches. We will present our printed stories and videos, along with a dissemination plan.

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 Moving Forward Together and Apart: Developing New Models of Clinical Supervision From Afar   

 Karen Kell Hartman, LCSW-R, OSW-C

 With the recent growth of satellite cancer treatment centers that are geographically separate from their main hospitals (Onega et al 2017), clinical and administrative supervision of social work staff in those sites faces new challenges.  Given the potential for burnout and compassion fatigue, it behooves supervisors in these fields to pay particular attention to the issue of distance supervision.  This presentation will explore issues and challenges inherent in providing distance clinical and administrative supervision to palliative and oncology social workers in these centers.

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Professional Development

Learning From Each Other:  Palliative Care Inter-Professional Education With High Fidelity Simulation   

Steve Wilson, PhD, LCSW

Joy R. Goebel, RN, PhD, FPC

Collaboration and teamwork skills are best achieved when professions such as social work and nursing engage in interactive interdisciplinary learning. One approach to interdisciplinary learning is with Interprofessional education (IPE) and the use of High Fidelity Simulators (computer-driven mannequins).

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An Innovative Curriculum for Interprofessional Fellowship Training in Palliative Care   

  Ryan Weller, LCSW

 Jason Malcom, LCSW

This presentation will cover the components of interprofessional training as developed by the VA Portland Health Care System’s Interprofessional Palliative Care Fellowship Program, one of just six such programs in the national VA system.  The components include: a list of didactic and journal club topics, templates for biopsychosocialspiritual considerations and for presenting a diverse cultural/national perspective on end-of-life care, team- building and self-care exercises that are formally incorporated into the fellowship schedule, and the format of formal bedside rounds and team meetings.

click  here  to print session materials 

Education & Professional Development

 LIVE Debriefing: Experience the Intervention!

 Dr. Anthony Nicholas Galanos, MA, MD, Clinical Director, Duke Palliative Care

Vickie Leff, LCSW, BCD, ACHP-SW

 Providing opportunities for debriefings around the complex issues intrinsic to palliative care and hospice is a critical and successful tool that is used for physicians, interns, residents, and fellows.  Led by a Clinical Social Worker and Palliative Care Physician, participants will take part in a “live” debriefing during the workshop.  Additionally, we will discuss the evidence-based support for this intervention, and offer our experience with logistics for starting groups.


Special Topics in Pediatric Palliative Care: Respecting Family Diversity and the Social Work Role in Decision Making

Stacy Remke, LICSW, ACHP-SW

Martha Schermer, LICSW, ACHP-SW

 The recent media storm around the case of Charlie Gard illustrated many issues that are complex and perplexing for teams caring for children with life-limiting conditions.  Pediatric palliative care social workers will tie case vignettes to social work theory and best practice knowledge to illustrate the unique role social work can play in interprofessional care for diverse families around decision-making and advanced care planning and addressing “futility” that can be applied in context of a team based pediatric palliative care program.

Special Populations

 Attitude and Perceived Competence in Working with Death: A Study of Chinese Health Care Providers   

Xiaofang Liu, MSW

Cathy Berkman, PhD

This presentation presents the results of a study of 322 Chinese healthcare providers. The findings include: 2) a description of attitudes about and coping with death; and 2) how these are associated with sociodemographic and professional characteristics.

click here to print session materials


Racial Differences in Perceptions of Advance Care Planning   

    Hyunjin Noh, PhD, MSW

    Rebecca Allen

    Kathryn Burgio

 This presentation will report on the findings from a pilot study on the informational needs and perceptions of advance care planning among community-based Caucasian and African-American older adults. The session will cover the similarities and differences between the two racial groups in their knowledge about risks of life-sustaining treatments, needs for information in using the advance directive form, and perceptions of advance care planning. 

click here to print presentation materials

Innovation & Research, Diversity & Inclusion

Hands-on Palliative Care: Integrating Massage Therapy for Palliative Care Patients in Pain   

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW

Lauren Cates, LMT, S4OM

Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

To expand services available to hospitalized palliative care patients in pain, we developed a partnership to provide massage therapy with the goal of demonstrating feasibility and value. This presentation will review the role of massage therapy in patients with serious illness and present findings from our pilot study.


 Dipping Your Toes into the Realm of Spirituality: The Waters are Deep – Can you Swim?

 Sue Best, MSW, LCSW

Palliative Care Social Workers (PCSW) are often faced with addressing issues of a spiritual nature in their clinical work, but often lack the training and comfort to do so. Another critical element to this work is the clinician's ability to examine and nourish one's own spiritual foundation. The purpose of this presentation is to consider the role of spirituality for PCSW, highlight models of spiritual assessment, plus review research and best practices.

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 The Powerful Effect of Reiki and "Energy Healing" Techniques at the End of Life   

  Elizabeth Giele, MSW, LICSW, ACHP-SW

 This presentation will provide didactic information about the history and use of Reiki healing (a Japanese energy healing system) and other therapeutic energy modalities, for use with medical and chronic illness, specifically at the end of life, and to counteract compassion fatigue.  The presenter will provide examples of her own use of Reiki in the community and private sector and at VA (Veterans Administration) hospitals and hospice units.  The presenter will discuss clinical and boundary implications including the use of self, the use of touch, and the potential blurring of professional lines of practice. 

click here and here to print presentation materials

 Session 6: Tuesday, March 13, 11:15 am - 12:15 pm

Innovation & Research

 Adding the Secret Sauce: Expanding the Role of Social Work in Hospice and Palliative Care Quality Initiatives

  Katherine Ast, MSW, LCSW

 Joseph Rotello, MD, MBA, HMDC, FAAHPM

 Join AAHPM’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Quality and Research as they present this interactive symposium that looks at how we make sure that social work is properly valued in alternative payment methods (APMs) and other quality payment schemes, and how we can engage more social workers in quality improvement measures that matter.

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The Other Caregiver: A New Approach to Supporting Clinical Staff Who Occupy The Roles of Professional And Loved One   

Meredith Ruden, LCSW 

 This presentation frames clinical staff reactions to palliative care work in loss, trauma and bereavement theory, drawing parallels between what patients and their loved ones’ experience and what staff experience and witness.  It will argue for staff support programs to be created from this understanding, and describe one such program that was developed at Mt. Sinai Hospital's cancer center. Benefits seen there include: enhanced staff wellbeing and awareness of patient experience, improved collaboration amongst supportive care and clinical staff, and value-building for other, patient-directed supportive care services.


 Improving Care for Older Adults with Dementia and Their Informal Caregivers   

   Tessa Jones, LMSW 

    Ab Brody, PhD, RN, FPCN

 In response to the limited evidence base to guide practice for social workers working with persons with dementia in hospice, this session will present the results of a study aimed at modifying an evidence-based inter-professional education and behavior change program for use by social workers in hospice. The presentation will review the increasing need for clinical training and education for this population and the process of adapting the inter-professional dementia education program for social work relevance.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

 Leaving the House of Cancer: Tailoring Palliative Care to the Other Specialties   

Chris Onderdonk, LCSW

 Palliative Care was developed under oncology’s auspices, but what happens when our specialty “cuts the apron strings?” This presentation will explore the challenges and opportunities discovered in the process of expanding the reach of palliative care services and philosophy into the other specialties.


 Better Care for the Dying Patient: Bringing Hospice into the Acute Care Setting   

 Christina Kulp, LCSW, ACHP-SW

 Once upon a time, a health network decided to review the number of unavoidable deaths occurring in the acute hospital setting.  What they found saddened them.  This is the story of what they did about it and the resulting impact on care networkwide.

 Communication & Decision-Making

 Is There a Good Way to Break Bad News? Utilization of the SPIKES Protocol in Family Meetings   

 Ken Meeker, LMSW

 Delivering bad news in the context of family meetings can be one of the most difficult and stressful situations for young, inexperienced physicians.  Using a well-structured approach can help mediate the devastating impact on patients and family members.  This presentation discusses the SPIKES Protocol, a six-step method for conducting effective family meetings and breaking bad news, and the important role social workers can play as teachers to junior medical staff.    

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Choosing for Others: Emotional, Psychological and Social Challenges of Deciding for Others   

 Susan Hedlund, LCSW, OSW

When unable to speak for one's self, often family members or a designated surrogate are tapped to be decision makers. Until recently, little was known about their experience and needs. This presentation will consider the effect on surrogates of making treatment decisions for others, consider what helps and hampers the experience, examine differences in culture, and identify best practices for medical professionals in supporting surrogates.

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Special Populations

Building Bridges: Supporting Immigrants, Refugees, and Indigenous People   

Shelly Cory, MA

Kali Leary

 Social workers have a significant role in empowering and supporting populations for whom culture, spirituality, and religion may inhibit access to services, confuse communication, and undermine outcomes.  Participants will discuss various cultural perspectives on dying and death and explore a free online tool that supports delivery of culturally respectful care.


Mitigating Disenfranchised Grief for LGBTQ Patients, their Partners, and their Communities   

    Annie Schneider, MSW

    Anastasia Zankowsky, MSW

 LGBTQ patients and their support systems are often marginalized through laws, social and institutional violence, and family trauma which disempowers them in the healthcare system and can exacerbate bereavement risk factors. Palliative care and hospice social workers have a responsibility to intervene throughout the course of illness or in the dying process in order to mitigate further psychosocial harm and facilitate healthy grief processes.


 It's Not About Having the Answers, It's About Asking the Questions:  How Spiritual Self-awareness Enhances Palliative Care Social Work

Melissa Stewart, LCSW-R

Palliative care clinicians are encouraged to examine their own spiritual beliefs and expectations, just as they are encouraged to engage in psychotherapy to better understand themselves, if they are to provide unbiased, compassionate and therapeutic care.  Developing keen spiritual self-awareness is necessary as our role expands to include the assessment of patients’ spiritual concerns. 

Education / Prof Development

 Upstreaming Palliative Care: Identifying Core Competencies for Generalist Social Work

   Myra Glajchen, BSW, MSW, DWS

   Cathy Berkman, MSW, PhD

   Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, MA, LCSW, OSW-C

   Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW    

 The core competencies for generalist-level palliative social work have not been well defined. This has hampered recognition of the contribution of palliative social work by other palliative care professionals.  Although the development of specialist palliative social work is well underway, there has been no parallel effort to define core competencies for social workers who are not specialists but provide most of the care to patients and families managing serious or life-threatening illness.  The National Consensus Project to Establish Core Competencies and an Educational Curriculum for Generalist-Level Palliative Social Work was designed to close this gap.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration; Substance Abuse

 Why is a social worker asking me about opioids? Enhancing pain management clinical skills   

Kathryn Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE

Anne Kelemen, LICSW, ACHP-SW

 How can you talk to someone about advance care planning, existential distress, or assess their coping skills when they are in pain?  This presentation will showcase practical clinical skills that a social worker can use to advocate, assess, and assist in managing the patient in pain.

 Session 7: Tuesday, March 13, 1:45 pm - 2:45 pm

Grief & Bereavement; Innovation & Research

 Complicated Grief Group Therapy: From Concept to Practice

   Kathie Supiano, PhD, LCSW, F-GSA, FT

 This presentation will include the theoretical underpinings, research evidence, and practical application of Complicated Grief Group Therapy, a specialized multi-modal group psychotherapy treatment of complicated grief.  All CGGT intervention treatment elements will be presented with video and practice examples.

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 Holding Faith: Understanding How Cultural Differences Can Impact Decision-Making in a Palliative Care Setting   

   Maya Scott, MSW, LCWAIC

    Arika Patneaude 

 This case study presents the story of a young woman brought to the United States through an international adoption, her son born with multiple congenital heart defects, and the complicated family dynamics that impacted his care. Her many losses, coupled with repeated traumas, different spiritual beliefs between her native culture and that of her birth parents, and cultural conflicts impacted decision making at end of life.

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Utilizing the Third Therapeutic System to Address Religiously Based Requests for Escalation of Care   

    Denise Hess, MDiv, LMFT

 Palliative Care team members are often challenged by religiously based requests for escalation of care expressed as belief for a divine intervention in the form of a miraculous healing. Even the best communication skills can fail to result in effective goals of care conversations when patients and their loved ones’ lack trust, or are even actively suspicious of health care professionals due to religious beliefs. Modeled after evidence informed practice in Sub-Saharan African, this session explores addressing these situations through the inclusion of faith leaders/practitioners as a "third therapeutic system" in the patient-centered plan of care.

Professional Development

Flipping the Focus: Palliative Care as a Platform for Interprofessional Education 

Iris Fineberg, PhD, MSW, OSW-C

 Using the concepts of "flipping the classroom," this session highlights the interprofessional nature of the palliative care model and utilizes it as a teaching platform for social workers and other health care professionals, even those not intending to work in palliative care, to learn the skills of psychosocial collaboration, teamwork and care. We will also highlight key elements in palliative care models that can be utilized by social work educators to enhance social work and interprofessional education.


 Inspiring Social Work Leadership through Physician Education   

   Delia Cortez, LCSW

   Lindsay Minter, MSW

   Christopher Pietras, MD

 This presentation will highlight the curriculum developed at the UCLA Medical Center to provide a weekly educational series to residents/fellows rotating with the Palliative Care Service (PCS) in order to inspire thoughtful communication, increase interdisciplinary collaboration and promote self-awareness.   Through this education, the Palliative Care social workers were able to achieve a leadership role and increase professional knowledge/skills and apply them into practice.

Communication & Decision Making

 How to choose compassion at all crossroads: Understanding the suffering of parents when faced with the decisions at end of life: to Withdraw or not Withdraw

   Lori Seraphin, LCSW-C

 This presentation will examine the family’s complex thought process for making the difficult decision to withdraw care. Understanding the role of the intensive care social worker in assessing the underlying needs and desires of the family when faced with the decision to limit care for their child is vital to ensuring proper care.

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When Ambiguity Ends: Grieving the Losses of Dementia Caregiving after a Death

   Abigail Nathanson, LCSW, ACS

   Madeline Rogers, BS (MSW Candidate)

 The unique experience of caregiving for someone with dementia means grappling with multiple ambiguous and concrete losses throughout the course of an illness. Extensive attention has been paid to the experience of the ambiguous losses experienced during the course of the illness, but after someone with dementia dies, the experience of bereavement is shaped by the nature of dementia caregiving, too. This presentation seeks to provide a case narrative that highlights the particular complexity of the grief and bereavement experience for dementia caregivers and how it might present after a death.

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Clinical Practice

 It'll Take a Miracle!- The Role of the Palliative Care Clinician Engaging Families Who Are Hoping for a Miracle

Rachel Rusch, MSW, MA

This interactive presentation will outline innovative research-based interventions for clinicians to utilize when engaging with a family who hold the hope for a miracle at the center of their loved one's care. Thoughtful reflection from an interdisciplinary perspective will engage the audience in considering the language and profundity of the concept of miracles throughout the disease trajectory and into bereavement. Further exploration into the unique and exciting role of palliative care clinicians in aiding in such nuanced communication will additionally provide learners with tools to aide in mitigating provider moral distress.

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 Soooo Misunderstood: The Role of the Palliative Care Social Worker on the Interdisciplinary Team   

Lynn Skubiszewski, LCSW

 Sara K. Dado, LCSW

 Social Workers are integral members of the PC interdisciplinary team yet widely report feeling misunderstood, undervalued and underutilized. Our unique skills in the psycho social care of chronically ill and terminal patients provide the opportunity to improve the patient experience and practice outcomes.  This presentation will include a model in which a community program uses the social work role as lead in care management.

Innovation and Research, Interdisciplinary Collaboration

 I'm afraid to go to sleep: Addressing medical PTSD in palliative social work

   Regina Tosca, LICSW, TICP

   Stacey Thompson, LCSW-C

   Zoe Plaugher, LGSW

   Sarah Fairbrook, MSN, CRNP, ACHPN

Palliative patients may experience psychological, emotional and physical distress related to illness and treatment, and for some patients, these experiences can induce symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this session, participants will learn about the prevalence of medical PTSD among patients with diverse diseases; tools for screening and assessment; and opportunities for integrating trauma-focused strategies into their work with palliative patients.

Special Populations; Care Across the Continuum

Addressing the Unique and Profound Psychosocial Impact of Perinatal Loss: Implications for Expansion of Social Work Leadership in Multidisciplinary Learning and Care

 Alyssa Gupton, LCSW, ACHP-SW

 Perinatal loss is a significant life experience for families, bringing complicated grief that profoundly impacts psychosocial, emotional and spiritual well-being and needs. This presentation will reflect on the current state of education and provision of care for this population, within the context of the complex and profound psychosocial needs experienced throughout the care continuum, and analyze implications for greater meaningful contributions from social work toward growth in the field through research, teaching and practice of this work. Opportunities and the case for expanded social work leadership and contribution will be discussed, with ultimate aim of strengthening patient/family care at all levels and enhancing opportunities for healing.