2022 General Assembly Program Sessions: Monday, April 25

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

Choose from over 75 sessions and 11 tracks:

  • Clinical Interventions
  • Pediatrics
  • Grief & Bereavement
  • Caregiving
  • COVID-Related Interventions
  • Population-Specific
  • Policy & Advocacy
  • Addressing Anti-Racism & Equity
  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Addressing Social Determinants of Health

Please note all times listed are Mountain Standard Time. Keynote speakers and plenaries will be announced by March 1, 2022.

Session 1A: 30-Minute Session | Monday, April 25, 2022 | 11:00-11:30 a.m.

Resiliency Unmasked: Exposing the Cumulative Loss Healthcare Workers Continue to Face while Exploring Strategies to Fight System-Wide Burnout.
Jenna Rhodaberger LSW, ACHP-SW
This presentation acknowledges the innumerable non-death losses healthcare workers have faced alongside the public death toll throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. The presenter, a Palliative Care Social Worker turned Employee Assistance Counselor, explores the cumulative impact of these losses and invites an open discussion of self-care strategies to be explored during this session.
Track: COVID-Related Interventions

Virtual Connection and Bereavement Boxes: A Novel Sibling Bereavement Group Intervention
Jennifer Greenman, LCSW, APHSW-C
During the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, pediatric palliative care social workers reacted with urgency to find ways to continue to provide essential bereavement support to families. Novel interventions and therapeutic modalities were created while promoting safety and access. This presentation will introduce an innovative clinician-facilitated virtual sibling support group program.
Track: Clinical Interventions - Pediatrics; Grief & Bereavement

So That's What It's Called? Exploring Medical Maternalism and Relational Autonomy
Chris Onderdonk, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C
Track: Population-Specific
Inpatient palliative care teams are often called upon to, in essence, “get the DNR.” This is the referring provider’s way of screaming, “help!” Often, the hope of these providers is for the palliative care team to figure out how to stop and/or avoid burdensome non-beneficial interventions. Simultaneously, patients and their surrogates are wrestling with the inherent complexities of medical decision making relying upon providers to offer clarity and guidance with the ultimate goal of “doing the right thing.” These “life and death” conversations have the highest stakes and require an exquisite level of attention, critical thinking, compassion, and skill on the part of providers. This case presentation will detail the emerging ethical constructs of medical maternalism and relational autonomy and how they show significant promise in simultaneously addressing the needs of providers, patients, and their surrogates. A practical demonstration of a shared decision-making process rooted in these constructs will be outlined along with the opportunity for interaction and dialogue.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Louisiana State Penitentiary: A Textual Analysis of Correctional Staff Views on End-of-life Care
Shivani Kaushik, MSSW, RSW
The current standard for palliative and end-of-life care in prisons systems draws upon the hospice philosophy, with over 75 prison-based hospice or end-of-life programs currently in the United States; fifty percent utilize trained inmate volunteers. The objective of this textual analysis is to exhibit how correctional staff attribute meaning to their hospice caregiving experiences and to examine how correctional staff construct meaning from their role in delivering end-of-life care for dying inmates at Louisiana State Prison (LSP).

How Can Patient Portals Support Caregivers of Patients Near the End-of-life?: A Mixed Methods Study
Jennifer Dickman Portz, PhD, MSW
Patient portals are secure websites for personal health information and tailored resources linked to a patient’s electronic health record (EHR). Approximately 52% of patients access their portal, although use in seriously ill populations is unknown, as is use by caregivers. The aims of this study are to: (a) examine patterns of portal use among patients and their caregivers in the last 12 months of life; and (b) identify caregiver perceptions regarding the use of portals for caregiving near the end-of-life.
Track: Caregiving

Let's be Progressive: How End of Life Doulas can provide an extra layer of innovative care throughout the dying process
Lauren Geldon, MSW, LSW, ACHP-SW
This presentation will introduce the role of an End of Life Doula as an added layer to the hospice or palliative care team. End-of-life Doula practices will be introduced and explored, in collaboration with working alongside of the hospice care team. Lastly, discussing how this added role can enhance psychosocial care for complex patient and family systems will be explored.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Session 1B: 30-Minute Session | Monday, April 25, 2022 | 11:40 a.m.-12:10 p.m.

Integrating Mindfulness-Based Interventions with Palliative Care Patients, Caregivers, and Clinicians
Stephanie Clark, MSW, LCSW
Palliative care and hospice social workers are uniquely positioned to introduce Mindfulness-Based Interventions to those experiencing serious illness and their caregivers. This presentation will provide an overview of how to integrate mindfulness-based interventions into one’s clinical practice. In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there will also be an emphasis on how clinicians can benefit from utilizing mindfulness tools regularly to prevent burnout.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Abstract concepts for concrete thinkers: Helping young siblings navigate the uncertainty of perinatal palliative care
Lindsay Wooster-Halberg, LCSW, AHPSW-C
Pregnancy is a family affair, but when a potentially life-limiting prenatal diagnosis is received, it is complicated for families to navigate the uncertainty of a baby’s prognosis together. While parents aim for thoughtfulness in sharing information with siblings, the abstract language used by adults is often incomprehensible for concrete thinkers
Track: Clinical Interventions - Pediatrics

Dignity, Personhood and The Culture of Medicine: The Use of Dignity Therapy With Patients Facing Serious Illness
Ellen Ozier, MSW, LCSW, APHSW-C, OSW-C
Dignity Therapy is a brief psychotherapeutic intervention proven to reduce psychosocial and existential distress for seriously ill patients. The presenter, who is formally trained in Dignity Therapy, will review clinical use and outcomes, discuss case examples from Dignity Therapy sessions with adults, and describe adaptations for pediatric and adolescent patients.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Project Respect: LGBTQ+ Persons' Experiences with Healthcare Providers for Serious Illness
Gary L. Stein, JD, MSW; Cathy Berkman, PhD, MSW
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community experience discrimination and stigma in accessing health care and social services – including palliative, hospice, and long-term care. Healthcare providers and institutions may be uncomfortable with, and often don’t ask patients about, sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. LGBTQ+ patients fear being open about their identities, not receiving equal, competent or safe treatment, and having their family of choice and designated surrogates disrespected or ignored by healthcare staff. This presentation reports on the results of Project Respect, Phase II of this study, which collects data directly from LGBTQ+ individuals with serious illness, and their partners/spouses and widows, about care that was inadequate, disrespectful or abusive due to their SOGI.
Track: Population-Specific

Caregiver Speaks: A technologically mediated storytelling intervention for Caregivers of Persons Living with Dementia at End-of-Life and into Bereavement: A Case Presentation
Abigail Rolbiecki, PhD, MPH, MSW; Christine Lero, MSW, LCSW; Karla Washington, PhD, LCSW
Over 15 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias receive daily care from family caregivers. Caring for a person living with dementia (PLWD) impacts caregivers’ daily lives, often resulting in depression and anxiety as they labor through the illness trajectory. As caregiving challenges increase as the PLWD nears death, family caregivers lack social support during this terminal phase, and into bereavement. Limited social support during such critical times intensifies depression and anxiety and greatly impacts caregivers’ grief in bereavement. Caregiver Speaks employs photo-elicitation – the use of photos to elicit thoughts and feelings about a particular experience – to facilitate storytelling among family caregivers of PLWD who are on hospice. Caregiver Speaks is informed by a meaning-making model of stress and coping, which posits that when individuals can make sense of, or find meaning in adverse life experiences (such as caregiving for someone with serious illness, or even death), they might experience less depression and anxiety, and thus, decreased grief intensity after their loved one dies.
Track: Caregiving

Making the (Business) Case for Palliative Social Work
Shirley Otis-Green, MSW, MA, ACSW, LCSW, OSW-CE, FNAP, FAOSW
COVID-19 and the ongoing socio-political upheavals have highlighted both the importance of our work and its vulnerability. This session will explore the challenges facing our field, highlight the evidence that supports our importance, and offer strategies that you might adopt when “justifying” the value proposition social work brings to healthcare.
Track: Policy & Advocacy
A Provider Survey on Documenting Advance Directives: A Qualitative Study with Social Workers
Frances Nedjat-Haiem, PhD, MSW, LCSW; Jennifer Hirsch, LMSW, APHSW-C; Jen Currin-McCulloch, PhD, LMSW
Advance care planning (ACP) conversations lead to a discussion of values and writing end-of-life care wishes on an advance directive (AD) document. Social workers play a critical role in guiding patients and families through the ACP process, educating them about ACP and supporting them to document an AD. ACP is an area of expertise for social workers, especially for those working in medical settings. Provider perceptions of the importance for engaging patients in ACP education is a significant factor that influences social workers to help their patients carry out these tasks. However, various perceptions about ADs exist. Additionally, there is a gap in the literature about social workers’ understanding of the purpose for assisting patients with documenting an AD. During COVID-19 pandemic, the need to support social workers with providing ACP education as an area of specialty practice became abundantly clear.

Session 2: Symposia | Monday, April 25, 2022 | 1:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

Advance Care Planning: An Essential Component of Quality Person-Centered Care
Christine Wilkins, LCSW, Ph.D.
This session will highlight the role of advance care planning in providing quality person-centered care across the life span and health spectrum using case studies to look at specific challenges. Strategies on how to facilitate serious illness communication will also be provided. The role of the social worker in promoting quality advance care planning will be explored.
Track: Clinical Interventions


Talking to Children and Adolescents About their Conditions
Arika Patneaude, MSW, LICSW, APHSW-C; Allie Shukraft, MSW, MAT, APHSW-C
The presenters will review the role that hospice and palliative care social workers (HAPCSWs) can take in discussing diagnosis and prognosis conversations with children and teens with serious conditions. Although the focus is on pediatric clinicians, discussions will be applicable to work with siblings and children and grandchildren of patients. The presenters will trace the history of “truth-telling” in pediatric medicine in the American Medicine to examine how communication with pediatric patients and families has evolved over time and what best-practices are for HAPC in 2021. The presenters will share information about what research has shown about the impact of racism on communication between clinicians and families. Participants will be challenged to foster curiosity about patients and families in an effort to counteract stereotypes and will be asked to create tools for leading a care conference with a family experiencing conflict with the medical team in small groups.
Track: Population-Specific (Pediatrics)


Designing Your Ideal Mentoring Relationship: Practical Tips for Advocating for Your Learning Needs and Interests
Jennifer Currin-McCulloch, PhD, LSW; Shivani Kaushik, MSSW, RSW
Given the specialized skills and knowledge required to serve as hospice and palliative care social workers, professional mentors may hold insights that can be instrumental in supporting budding hospice and palliative care social workers in the development of their confidence and competence. However, outside of integrated mentoring within field placement settings, social workers have limited opportunities to partner with hospice and palliative care social workers to foster their professional development. This interactive session will include a brief review of mentoring theory, practical applications of theory, and then delve into large and small group discussions to help guide social workers to develop strong mentoring partnerships. Activities will include case scenarios and opportunities to develop mentee and mentor goals
Track: Leadership

To Talk or Not to Talk: that is the question“ A descriptive narrative research study exploring end-of-life communication between the dying and their loved ones.
Dr. Laura Lewis, PhD, MSW, BSW, RSW; Dr. Eunice Gorman PhD RN MSW BSW RSW
This symposium will present some of the specific findings from a descriptive narrative study (N=16) that explored crucial conversations at the end-of-life between loved ones. When asking those who had been caregivers to their loved ones at the end of their lives, to recall anything about their communication that had impacted them personally, study participants had much to say – not only about the content of these impactful verbal exchanges, but also about how the content of conversation and communication between loved ones had the capacity to influence one’s grief.
Track: Grief and Bereavement

My Child's Experience Matters: Parental Decision-Making for Children with Medical Complexity
Danielle Faye Jonas, MSW, LCSW; Caitlin Scanlon, MSW, LCSW
The presentation will focus on identifying and discussing the challenging decisions that parents of children with medical complexity face, as well as explore how this population is unique. Presenters will engage the audience in a dialogue about how pediatric palliative care social workers can best support and advocate for parents and their voice in complex medical decision-making.
Track: Population-Specific (Pediatrics)

Where do we go from here? Improving Care Transitions following Decertification from Hospice
Stephanie P. Wladkowski, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C; Cara L. Wallace, PhD, LMSW, APHSW-C; Anna Wingo, MHA, MSW, LCSW, ACSW, C-SWHC & Kathryn W. Coccia, MM, MT-BC
Hospice has been shown to improve end-of-life outcomes, yet with eligibility limited to a six-month prognosis, the hospice system is not structured to meet longer-term needs. Though hospice is strongly associated with death, some enrolled patients do not decline as predicted leading to decertification from care, or what is referred to as a ‘live discharge.’ In 2018, 6.3% of all hospice discharges were patients discharged alive due to decertification, or no longer meeting eligibility requirements. The aim of this presentation is to review current literature surrounding live discharge, discuss policy and practice challenges within current discharge practices, and present new research directions from two current NIH-funded studies
Track: Caregiving

Visitors Not Welcome! From Evidence-Based to Authority-Based Practice: The Impact of Restricted Visitation on Patients and Caregivers During COVID-19
Suzanne Marmo, PhD, LCSW, APHSW-C; Jennifer Hirsch, LMSW, APHSW-C
This symposium will address the impact of restricted visitation practices during COVID-19. Despite CDC visitation recommendations that always allow for at least one visitor regardless of COVID-19 community transmission rates, most US hospitals have enacted restricted visitation policies, and in some cases no visitation at all, even for patients at end of life. Speakers for this symposium will apply a framework of institutional betrayal theory to current research on visitation practice along with personal case studies and original empirical research.
Track: Policy & Advocacy

“Dairy Cow Schedules Complicate things”: A hybrid telehealth palliative service in Rural America
Adie Goldberg, DSW, LICSW, APHSW-C; Gregg VandeKieft, MD, MA, FAAFP, FAAHPM; Kelly Corcoran, ME, MS, BCC-NACC;  Amber Moody, RN, BSN
When attempting to start the family meeting on Zoom, the Palliative physician (360 miles to the west) and the Palliative LICSW (72 miles to the south) received this message from the hospital chaplain. The Goals of Care meeting was scheduled to begin at 1:15 but the spouse was delayed tending the family’s cows. Join in this interactive panel of a Palliative MD, Palliative LICSW, Palliative RN and Hospital Chaplain as they share the benefits, obstacles, and learnings from delivering a hybrid palliative service to two acute care hospitals in small communities in Northeastern WA.
Track: Population-Specific (Rural)

Session 3A: 30-Minute Session | Monday, April 25, 2022 | 3:10-3:40 p.m.

Identity Poetry: Using Poetry to Bridge the Pre- and Post-Transplant Identity Chasm with Patients
Allie Shukraft, MSW, MAT, APHSW-C
In this presentation, participants will learn and use a variety of creative tools, including motivational interviewing, personal narratives, and poetry, to learn how to work with patients to draw out personal information as part of an interview to answer the question “who are you now?” or “who were you before you got sick?”.
Track: Clinical Interventions

The Buddy System: An intervention to relieve stress and promote resilience on a palliative care team during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the number of stressors on healthcare workers, especially palliative care and hospice practitioners, who, at baseline, are at high risk for compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary traumatic stress.  Routine self-care for healthcare workers, though recommended extensively to counteract these negative effects of caring for the seriously ill and dying, have historically proven problematic.  This session will explore the impact of the “Palliative Care Buddy System” on a palliative care team during the Covid 19 Pandemic and today. This will include the background, rationale,  implementation and effects of this peer support  intervention, which takes place at work, and is designed to mitigate distress, promote resilience and support connection among palliative care providers.
Track: COVID-related

Exploring Complex Death Notifications in an Urban Level 1 Emergency Department
Anna Wingo, MHA, LCSW
Deaths in emergencies departments (ED) are often sudden and traumatic. Many ED staff have little training for end-of-life care, much less death notifications. Modalities have been developed to create a structure for death notification conversations to minimize lasting effects, but without sufficient education, inconsistencies in practices develop, diminishing the benefits of an interdisciplinary team and utilizing methods that may lead to more harm. In addition to complications from limited training and inconsistent practices of death notifications, Level 1 Trauma Centers in urban settings encounter complexities related to a large proportion of sudden deaths occurring due to violence. Often times notifications for violent deaths are intermingled with interviews with law enforcement and the viewing of loved ones is dictated by crime scene regulations. Literature supports utilizing social workers as the identified lead coordinator for expirations, greeting family, coordinating the medical update with the medical team, providing emotional support, and completing necessary paperwork, and navigating upcoming processes for families.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Life Death and What Comes in Between: Jewish Perspectives on End of Life Decision Making
Laura Burns, LCSW
Using the results from a workshop conducted during the jewish High Holy Days, participants will learn to describe how Advanced Directive completion can be understood from a Jewish perspective, and explain how faith-based communities can engage their congregants to discuss and document end of life preferences.
Track: Population-Specific; Caregiving

To not be missing forever, that seems important: Ethical, Clinical and Practical Aspects of reuniting patients and families
Terry Altilio LCSW, APHSW-C; Annie Schneider, LMSW
This presentation will focus on vulnerable persons who are medically unable to participate in decision making and seem to be without involved surrogates. Health care systems care for increasing numbers of persons without stable housing, undocumented, isolated or in fractured relationship with family. During the pandemic the flood of patients to be cared for meant that diligent searches for surrogates was often not feasible leaving many families to assume that their family member continues to be “missing” when they have in fact died. . For some, being lost to family replicates historical separations chosen or imposed by political and economic forces such as slavery, removal of Indigenous children and immigration policy. While the work of reuniting the “missing” with families has implications beyond medical decision making, this is often the reason palliative care clinicians are consulted
Track: Ethics

Navigating Social Determinants of Health in Unauthorized Immigrants: A Significant Cause of Interpersonal Moral Distress
Adam J. Schoenfarber, LCSW, APHSW-C; Kathy L. Marcotte, MA, MSN, FNP-BC, ACHPN
More than 10 million unauthorized immigrants living in the United states face significant barriers in accessing healthcare due to the lack of public insurance. The relationship between access to healthcare resources and developing care plans is based on unobstructed values. Unauthorized immigrants and their families do not have access to public insurance if services are not considered life-preserving, which often compromises personal and cultural values in medical decision-making. Palliative care and hospice teams face unique responsibilities in the care of unauthorized immigrants balancing the barriers to medical care not covered by emergency Medicaid with addressing goal directed care for these patients.
Track: Addressing SDOH

Whose quality of life takes precedence, the patient or the caregiver? How it can be achieved for both with open communication
Stephanie DePiano, LCSW, APHSW-C
The role of the palliative care social worker in complex decision making: A case review in exploring both patient and caregiver needs.What drives patient and family decision making? When living with serious illness, complex family dynamics and limited resources for support, the stress in the family is at an almost unbearable level. Having open honest communication within a family system can be challenging. Using a case example of a home based palliative care patient I will explore how the social worker can be the key to unlocking open communication between patients and families and lead to peace, comfort and positive outcomes within the family system.
Track: Caregiving

Save the Last Dance: Therapeutic Intersections of Palliative Care and the Arts
Eleanor Frechette, MSW, LCSW
When treating the whole person, PC social workers are essential in recognizing the interconnectedness between physical and psychological distress.The creative arts (music, visual art, writing, etc) are a holistic approach to patient care that focuses on the use of self-expression and reflection, the interrelation of body, mind, and spirit. Art has historically been used to communicate themes of grief and loss, a creative strategy that has facilitated expression for centuries. The use of art in PC not only provides an alternative means for patients to communicate their emotions, but can also be used as a tool to elicit hopes, worries, and goals. This presentation will examine the interconnections of art and medicine, the use of creative interventions to support patient-centered palliative care, and the benefits of the arts in serious illness populations.
Track: Clinical Interventions

Session 3B: 30-Minute Session | Monday, April 25, 2022 | 3:45-4:15 p.m.

Palliative Care and the Power of Social Connectivity
Anne Front, LMFT, APHSW-C
This session will explore the benefits, implications and outcomes of addressing social isolation and loneliness in palliative care patients and the importance of social inclusion throughout the lifecycle. Representatives from an outpatient Palliative Care program and Social Isolation Impact Project will share the process and structure and qualitative responses from their successful collaboration that specifically addresses socially isolated individuals receiving palliative care.
Track: Addressing SDOH

Broadening the practice of empathy
Abigail Latimer, PhD, LCSW, APHSW-C; Vickie Leff, LCSW, APHSW-C
As social workers, we are taught that empathy is the foundation for developing effective therapeutic relationships and influencing outcomes. As palliative and hospice social workers, empathy is an essential and required skill to provide compassionate care to those with serious illnesses. Empathy comprises emotional, cognitive, and practical skills that allow us to build rapport, hear our patients, witness their suffering, and work collaboratively to meet their needs to the best of our ability. In addition, empathy is associated with improved outcomes for the provider and the patient.While justifying the need to be empathic and thus compassionate towards our patients, we can be challenged when asked to extend this same practice towards our teams, consulting providers and teams, and administrators. This session will explore how empathy can be used beyond the scope of patient care to improve working relationships within teams and organizations.
Track: Clinical Interventions

The Quagmire of Guardianship in PPC: Impact on Caregiver Decision Making and Clinical Care
Lauren Cramer, MSW, LICSW; Marsha Joselow, MSW, LICSW
PPC teams often follow patients with serious illness into adulthood, some of whom require guardianship given intellectual disability (ID). In certain states, guardians do not have authority to make end of life care decisions. The cases of two young adults with intractable epilepsy and ID will be used to demonstrate the crucial role of the PPC team in facilitating the initial guardianship and guardianship expansion process.
Track: Population-Specific; Caregiving

Ethical Implications for Social Workers working within The Texas Heartbeat Act: A Case Study
Abigale O'Reilly, LCSW-S
Texas law has made termination of a pregnancy illegal once a heartbeat is detected. It has also outlawed the counseling of alternative options which is in direct violation of the social work code of ethics. There have been substantial repercussions for all women, but we will specifically look at those whose fetus has been diagnosed with a condition that is incompatible with life.
Track: Ethics

Perspectives on Social Justice among Hospice and Palliative Care Social Workers: Voices from the Field
John G. Cagle, MSW, PhD; Rachel Brandon, MSW, LMSW
Within the social work profession, the pursuit of social justice is a core ethical value. To date, however, there is an absence of empirical research examining the meaning of social justice among hospice and palliative social workers. This study serves to fill this gap.
Track: Addressing SDOH

Assessment of Suicidal Ideation in Hospice: Are you ready? Lessons learned from one program's experience
Melissa Schmidt, MSW, LICSW
Patients in hospice and their caregivers can experience suicidal thinking. COVID has exacerbated feelings of hopelessness and isolation for patients and caregivers, increasing the need to further assess for suicidal thoughts. This presentation will review of one programs experience following a hospice patient death from suicide and the resulting practice changes.
Track: Clinical Intervention, Caregiving

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