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Attention Hospice and Palliative Care Social Workers: There is a need for your voice!

The Congressional Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Caucus is a bipartisan effort of lawmakers started in July of 2021 to improve approaches for addressing health disparities experienced by persons disproportionately impacted by SDOH and improve well-being. In this effort, the Caucus is seeking comments and feedback from the public on challenges and opportunities related to SDOH by September 21, 2021.  

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SWHPN Conference Committee Update: #SWHPN22 to be held in Santa Fe April 24-26

Continuing our blog series of updates from SWHPN's committees, our latest update is from the SWHPN Conference Committee. As one of SWHPN's longest-running committees, this group is responsible for all aspects of the organization's signature annual Assembly that, pre-COVID, brought together hundreds of social work professionals from across the country for several days of professional development, collaboration-building, and networking.

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Student Committee Update: Supporting SWHPN’s Student Members

Next up in our new series looking at the activities of the various SWHPN committees is the Student Committee. We started this committee in late spring 2020, as a way to provide additional support focused on our SWHPN student members, especially during the pandemic. The committee is comprised of Board members and SWHPN members, some of whom teach BSW- and MSW-level students, as well as several people who are either getting their PhDs or have recently completed this process. The committee is chaired by Dr. Stephanie Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, ACHP-SW, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Eastern Michigan University.

In this past year, the committee has created and led six webinars, from tips for making the most of your field placement and finding a job, to learning more about the benefits of pursuing an MSW, DSW, and/or PhD, to learning how to lead a team meeting effectively. Collectively, these sessions reached hundreds of social work students, educating them about the field of hospice and palliative care, a specialization that few colleges and universities offer.

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SWHPN Strategic Engagement Committee Update: Building Connections & Advancing Social Work in HAPC

Beginning this week, SWHPN will begin posting weekly updates from our committees, to highlight the important work each is doing to help advance the organization’s mission. This series is being launched by our Strategic Engagement committee, and the following was written by Jennifer Hirsch, LMSW and PhD candidate.

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SWHPN Receives Grant from ANF to Develop Grief Resources

To help address complex trauma resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, five leading organizations are collaborating to offer free innovative resources for frontline providers on grief education. The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation (HPNF), the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN), the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) have received a grant from the American Nurses Foundation (ANF) to produce Dealing with GRIEF: A Series of 5 Short, Powerful Videos.

Caring for the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of patients and their families is a demanding vocation in typical times, and this initiative aims to provide timely and practical information during an unprecedented time. Research has also shown that a significant number of frontline providers, at all levels, exhibit secondary traumatic stress, bereavement, compassion fatigue, and burnout.

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SWHPN Announces Seven New Board Members

SWHPN held elections for its Board of Directors in March 2021 and is excited to announce the addition of seven new members. Read the full press release here.

Tanisha Bowman, MSW, LSW, APHSW-C, a native of the Northern Virginia area, first attended Northern Virginia Community College where she earned her associate's degree in social science with a Deaf specialization, as well as a career studies certificate in American Sign Language. She then went on to graduate in May 2015 from George Mason University with her BSW. Following her graduation from GMU, Tanisha moved to Pittsburgh where she earned her MSW at the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in December of 2016. After graduation, Tanisha completed a Death and Dying fellowship through the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and accepted a position at UPMC as an ICU social worker. Tanisha currently works as a supportive and palliative care social worker at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside where she is a member of the palliative care section’s anti-racism and social justice committee. 
Tanisha brings with her 5 years of board experience as a former NASW state chapter board member, has multiple race in social work and race in medicine presentations under her belt, and can often be found engaging in various threads within the medical, social work, and hospice and palliative Twitter communities. In her spare time, Tanisha sews her own clothes and gets lots of hugs from her 10-month-old baby girl.

Lori Eckel, LCSW, APHSW-C is the lead palliative care social worker and the senior ethics consultant at Legacy Health.  She received her MSW from Portland State University School of Social Work, completed advanced clinical training in palliative care from Smith School of Social Work, and completed the Zelda Foster Palliative Care Leadership Fellowship at NYU School of Social Work. Lori currently serves as an adviser and mentor for participants in both the Smith and NYU’s Zelda Foster programs. Her palliative care clinical social work has been focused in critical care and oncology and she has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Social Work in End of Life and Palliative Care.  In her ethics role, she oversees the ethics consultation service, co-leads review and development of ethically relevant institutional policies, and supports the continuing ethics education activities at Legacy Health. Lori appreciates opportunities to contribute to the well-being of health professionals, teaching students, and mentoring others in the field of palliative care. She has presented locally and nationally on topics related to advance care planning, moral distress, and ethical dimensions of end-of-life care.

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SWHPN Statement Against Anti-Asian Racism

In continuing with our work to speak up and challenge social injustice, SWHPN is issuing this statement condemning the hateful attacks against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. We have seen a rise in verbal and physical violence in cities across the United States because of anti-Asian racism following the COVID-19 pandemic (Ruiz, Horowitz, Tamir, 2020; Jeung, Yellow Horse, Popovic, Lin, 2021). In the murders of Korean-Americans on March 16th in Atlanta, we saw the twin biases of sexism and racism that Asian women, in particular, have been victims of in our societal structure of white patriarchy. Affirming our social work values, we explicitly reject all forms of racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and stand with our Asian-American victims of violence and hate. By doing so, we also acknowledge that the struggles of Asian-Americans are inextricably linked with other BIPOC communities in a common endeavor for the humanity of this country. We uphold the inherent dignity and worth of each person and challenge others to join us in working against anti-Asian violence.

We recognize that our statement must be followed with action. Understanding our positionality and respecting the vanguard role of the Asian-American community, we want to use this opportunity to highlight the work being done by our Asian American Social Workers, and advocacy groups like Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Stop AAPI Hate (@stopAAPIHate on Twitter). The Atlanta branch of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice released a very powerful statement earlier today that we encourage you to read, and amplify and donate if possible. The Chicago branch is holding a series of bystander intervention trainings during April that SWHPN staff will be participating in, and we encourage you to sign up (also available here, through ihollaback.org).

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Recent legislation includes hospice and palliative care social work as part of interdisciplinary survey team

On December 27, 2020, H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 became public law. This 5,593-page year-end legislative package included a policy provision which should be of interest to hospice and palliative care social workers. Part of the “Helping Our Senior Population in Comfort Environments Act”, also known as the HOSPICE Act H.R. 5821is a requirement for survey and enforcement procedures to improve consistency and oversight for hospice programs. 

Federal oversight of hospice programs is not a new development. The Hospice Quality Reporting Program (HQRP), established in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, mandated quality reporting requirements for hospice programs. Since that time, to provide transparency to consumers and improve care to hospice patients, hospices have been required to both measure and report quality care measures. The Hospice Act differs from the HQRP, in that it provides more detail about surveyor training, the survey process, and intermediate sanctions for hospices.  Surveys will continue to be required every 36 months and if there is more than one surveyor (required to be a nurse), it can be conducted by other members of the interdisciplinary team. The interdisciplinary surveyor team is an important opportunity for hospice social workers, in that it includes for the first time, the potential for professional social work oversight to be included in a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hospice survey. 

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Cambia Health Foundation 2021 Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program

The Cambia Health Foundation has opened its 2021 Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program Call for Applications and encourages palliative care professionals from across the country, including all disciplines and practice settings to apply.

The Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program is designed to identify, cultivate and advance the next generation of palliative care leaders. As part of the leadership program, each Sojourns Scholar receives $180,000 in funding ($90,000/year over a two-year period) to conduct an innovative and impactful clinical, policy, educational, health equity or systems change project in the field of palliative care. Scholars also participate with other scholars in a collaborative learning community while receiving individual mentorship to design and implement a development plan that supports their growth as national palliative care leaders.

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Three Social Workers Named 2020 Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns® Scholars

SWHPN is thrilled to announce that three social workers have been announced as part of the seventh cohort of the Cambia Health Foundation’s Sojourns® Scholar Leadership Program. 

Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C of Saint Louis University; Rachel Rusch, LCSW, MSW, MA of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; and SWHPN Board Member Stephanie P. Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C of Eastern Michigan University were each carefully chosen through a rigorous selection process from a highly competitive pool. SWHPN is proud of their commitment to improving the experience of people facing serious illness and their caregivers. 

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SWHPN Condemns Riots at U.S. Capitol Building

Watching the events from yesterday unfold, and then reading many responses on social media and in major news and journalistic outlets, we at SWHPN feel the need to reflect and respond. As an organization, we obviously strongly condemn the insurrectionist riot that occurred at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. and at statehouses around the country.

While social justice and self-determination are pillars of social work, what happened yesterday was an attempt by a group of nearly all-white people to compel their desired election result over the expressed wishes of millions of Americans who voted differently. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are guaranteed rights, but breaking windows and doors to enter Congress for the sole purpose to cause havoc and delay a procedural process to certify the President is not.

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SWHPN Announces New Leadership

Though our field is facing unprecedented challenges, we are pleased to announce several exciting leadership changes taking place the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) to lead our members through these uncertain times.

SWHPN appointed Jessica Strong as permanent Executive Director, after serving in the role of interim Executive Director for the past year. This appointment followed an organizational search and board voting process. In addition to leading the outstanding team of professionals who have implemented SWHPN’s annual General Assemblies over the past five years, Jessica led SWHPN’s most recent strategic planning process that initiated the formalization of SWHPN’s current organizational structure. The goals set in that process have helped to provide extraordinary growth of SWHPN this year and have set the course for a bright future. One of her first initiatives was successfully securing a two-year grant from the Cambia Health Foundation to provide educational webinars to support the professional development needs of hospice and palliative care social workers. We are grateful to the Cambia Health Foundation for their continued support which will support these new initiatives.

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Special Call for Papers: Social Work Practice during Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Deadline: December 31, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has created changes and challenges in how social work practice is being conducted in all areas of the health care system due to guidelines and restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic. Thus, hospice, palliative and other social workers are being tasked with supporting individuals, families, and co-workers in new, unforeseen, and creative ways. In this special issue, social workers are encouraged to share reflections about the situations, challenges and changes they are experiencing as well as the processes of new ways to connect with those in most in need of intervention. In addition, it is important that social workers’ practice self-care and so papers on approaches to doing so during this stressful time are welcome.

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Working with Families Facing Undesired Outcomes During the COVID-19 Crisis

As SWHPN gathers resources for its social workers who are facing an unprecedented time in their practice, we've issued our first tip sheet: Working with Families Facing Undesired Outcomes During the COVID-19 Crisis.

You can find tip sheets and additional tools, resources, and information on the COVID-19 Resources PagePlease share widely.

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SWHPN releases Core Curriculum for Palliative and Hospice Social Work

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What does Social Justice mean to you?

Make your voice heard by participating in a SWHPN-endorsed study on the role of social justice in hospice and palliative care. Your participation is important because social justice is a defining professional value and social justice issues are directly relevant to our field, as well as to our patients and families. The study will help identify common social injustices that social workers encounter in hospice and palliative care settings and possible strategies to address them.

The study consists of a single online survey. Your participation in the survey is completely voluntary. Should you agree to participate, you will be asked to complete a brief (10-15 minute) survey on what social justice means to you. The survey consists of two sections – the first with open-ended questions on your experience with social justice in the field, the second with a few demographics questions. Upon completion of the survey, no further actions will be requested as completing the survey constitutes full participation in the study. Participation is anonymous and will allow us to gain a better understanding of how you incorporate social justice into your practice.

This study is led by Dr. John Cagle and his team at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Study procedures have been reviewed and approved by the University of Maryland, Baltimore IRB (#HP-00088264). If you have questions about the study, please contact Dr. Cagle (Principal Investigator) or Rachel Brandon, whose contact info is below.

To participate in this short – but important – study, please click the button here:

 
TAKE THE SURVEY

John G. Cagle, MSW, PhD
Associate Professor
University of Maryland, Baltimore
School of Social Work
525 West Redwood Street, 3W13
Baltimore, MD 21201
410-706-6106
[email protected]

Rachel Brandon
Research Team Member
University of Maryland, Baltimore
School of Social Work
525 West Redwood Street, 3W13
Baltimore, MD 21201
[email protected]

CMS-AAHPM MACRA Quality Measure Project

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, in partnership with the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care and RAND Health, is leading a three-year effort to develop patient-reported quality measures in outpatient palliative care for the CMS Quality Payment Program.

SWHPN is a member of the Coalition and is inviting programs that provide outpatient palliative care services to adult patients (and you can provide inpatient services, as long as you provide outpatient services) to consider serving as a testing site in this effort.
 
RAND Health will be leading a national field test of patient-reported items among outpatient palliative care programs, and field testing will begin in September 2019.

 
The benefits of participating as a testing site include:




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Social workers: we need your input for the HPC Workforce Study!

SWHPN is inviting its members, colleagues, and friends to participate in a research study questionnaire asking about your work experience, future plans, and professional stressors: the HPC Workforce Study. A social work-specific section is included for your input. If you work with seriously ill patients, you should consider participating in this study. This workforce survey is for all members of the interdisciplinary team.

SWHPN is proud to be participating, along with several other national organizations including AAHPM, HPNA, PAHPM and SCA/HCCN, in this important study. The results may be published as part of a Palliative Care specialty workforce series in Health Affairs.

By completing this survey, you are consenting to participate. No identifying information will be collected or reported. Other than contributing to our field's knowledge in this area, there are no other benefits to participation. The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete, and is available here: http://www.hpcworkforcesurvey.com/

New National Guidelines Seek to Improve Access to Palliative Care for People Living with Serious Illness

New national palliative care clinical practice guidelines seek to ensure the millions of people living with serious illness, such as heart failure, lung disease and cancer, have access to vital care that can help meet their needs. The guidelines promote improved access to palliative care, which is focused on giving patients and their caregivers relief from the symptoms and stress of serious illness, is based on need, not prognosis, and can be provided along with disease-focused treatment.

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Survey: Experiences of LGBT Patients and Families in Hospice and Palliative Care

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has a long history of experiencing discrimination and stigma in many arenas, including health care and social services. Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW (SWHPN Vice Chair, Professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University) and Cathy Berkman, PhD, MSW (SWHPN Board, Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Social Service at Fordham University) are conducting a study to learn about the experiences of LGBT persons and their family and friends with palliative care and hospice programs. The goal of this study is to the ways in which their care is discriminatory, disrespectful, or inappropriate based on their sexual minority status. Study findings will be used to develop and disseminate policy and practice remedies.

Your participation is voluntary. If you do participate, you have the option of remaining anonymous. If you choose to share your identity, your responses will be confidential. Study findings will be reported in the aggregate and it will not be possible to identify individual respondents or their institutions. We expect that the national sample will include several hundred hospice and palliative care respondents from social work, medicine, nursing, chaplaincy, administrators and elder law attorneys.

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