Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network
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SWHPN Winter Summit | Real Self-Care for Social Workers
Wednesday, December 06, 2023, 11:45 AM - 3:00 PM EST
Category: Conference

Join the SWHPN community on December 6th for a half-day virtual retreat diving into real and practical avenues for “self-care." This day promises reflection, practical tools (with time to practice!), and a deep sense of community.


Session 1: The Palliative Story Exchange

The Palliative Story Exchange aims to create community, foster collective meaning, and increase sustainability for palliative care clinicians through storytelling. One month prior to any PSE event, we invite attendees who are interested to consider reading a story of their own. We will then communicate with interested storytellers about the process, which culminates in our facilitating a reflective space with the hope of creating communal healing and enhanced well-being.

Presenters: Rachel Rusch, LCSW, MSW, MA, APHSW-C and Alexis Drutchas, MD; Richard Leiter, MD, MA
After attending this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify how storytelling with palliative care colleagues can build community among peers. 
  2. Recognize narrative writing and storytelling as strategies for meaning-making and sustainability in your work 
  3. Practice deep listening and reflection in a group setting.

Rachel Rusch, LCSW, MSW, MA, APHSW-C is the Palliative Care Education & Practice Coordinator with the Division of Comfort and Palliative Care at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Her career experience includes pediatric palliative care clinical social work and the study of early childhood development. With an extensive background in the performing arts, Rachel’s current education and program-building initiatives include the incorporation of theatre, improvisation, and creative writing toward the enhancement of clinical communication and the uplifting of patient-centered narratives. Rachel is additionally a proud member of the Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network, receiving the 2020 Award for Emerging Leader in Clinical Practice. A recipient of the Cambia Health Foundation Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program grant, her research centers on the power of story, narrative and the humanities in health care.

Session 2: Somatic Skills For Professional Caregivers

In this session, we'll explore body-based skills that support the nervous system in releasing stored stress and cultivating resilience. Instead of adding "self-care" as an unlikely task to your already long to-do list, we'll pay special attention to how these skills can be integrated into even the most demanding work days. We'll discuss the role body awareness can play in maintaining the right relationship to service (versus self-sacrifice) and practice foundational somatic skills that both develop body awareness and support the nervous system. You'll leave this session having experienced a felt connection with your body and with a clear idea of the exact moments in your workday when practicing a somatic skill would be both possible and supportive.

Presenter: Melissa Forde, BSN, RN 
After attending this session, participants will be able to:
  1. Identify and describe a body sensation
  2. Identify at least one recurring moment in their work-life when practicing a somatic skill would be both possible and supportive
  3. Describe the basic steps involved in practicing orientation, grounding, and containment.

Melissa Forde, BSN, RN is a Registered Nurse, Somatic Practitioner, and Health Educator. In her nursing career, she worked in pediatric and adult hospice in hospitals, facilities, and home-based settings. Now, in her private somatic practice, she supports individuals and groups in releasing the stored effects of stress and cultivating resilience through nervous system literacy and Somatic Experiencing techniques. She specializes in working with professional caregivers to develop a sustainable orientation towards service (versus self-sacrifice) and individuals experiencing grief and/or chronic illness. Her grounded and science-based approach centers around helping people remember how to access the wisdom of their bodies as a source of support not just even, but especially within less-than-ideal circumstances and systems.

Session 3: Hearing the Old One’s Call

Tending to the soul and the importance of self-attunement as tools for navigating the initiations of life

Self-care is often something we consider only after we have gone over a threshold of tolerance and are physically sick, emotionally exhausted and/or morally distressed. To adequately tend to the stresses of life, we need community acknowledgment, support, and the reminder that we belong to a World larger than our personal experiences. This means acknowledgment that what we are experiencing is hard, support to integrate those experiences, and physical companionship to venture into the next chapter—whatever that is---together, not alone.

This same concept applies to caring for your own Spirit and Soul. Are you a trusted and kind ally to yourself and how would you discern this? Self-attunement and awareness are fundamental to resilience, health, and thriving—for yourself and for how you relate to others.

Presenters: Ladybird Morgan, RN, MSW, BCST
After attending this session, participants will be able to:
  1. Become curious about how you may have lost track of your Spirit, given it away, set it aside—and what it would mean to welcome this part of yourself back.
  2. Identify how it would feel to be supported by yourself and your community.
  3. Explore your relationship and commitment to yourself and notice if it is similar or different from your relationship to others, your community, and the World around you.

Registration & CE Information

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 | 11:45 am - 3:00 pm Eastern | 8:45 am - 12:00 pm Pacific
Registration Fee: $90 for SWHPN Members | $135 for Nonmembers

Please register at the link below. A Zoom link to join the meeting will be included in your confirmation email. A reminder will be sent 24-48 hours prior to the Summit.

Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network aka SWHPN, #1716, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network aka SWHPN maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 7/18/2023 – 7/18/2026. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social workers participating in this summit course will receive 3 continuing education clock hours.

Contact: [email protected]