Social Work in Action (June 2012)

In April, NASW representatives served as guest lecturers for students seeking a certificate in public health education provided through the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences Graduate School at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The overall goals of the certificate in public health program are to give professionals an overview of and build competencies in the five core disciplines of public health: epidemiology, biostatistics, environmental health sciences, health policy and management, and social and behavioral sciences.

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark was joined by Joan Levy Zlotnik, director the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, and Chris Herman, NASW senior practice associate, in lecturing to students enrolled in the FAES course “End-of-Life and Palliative Care in Public Health: Strategies, Systems and Challenges for Health Services.”

NASW representatives discussed social work’s role in end-of-life and palliative care practice, policy and advocacy efforts as well as research and consumer education programs using NASW as a model.

Jeri Miller, NIH FAES course instructor, said the course is designed to:

  • Examine complex, sometimes conflicting, societal issues driving public health initiatives;
  • Explore the historical, cultural, economic, and global issues of end-of-life care;
  • Provide perspectives on conditions, services and needs; and
  • Promote critical dialogue on the evolution of legislation, consumerism and policy to improve quality services across systems of health care.

Miller said NASW’s participation provided new insight for students.

“The course is designed to recognize the impact of public health concerns and related implications for health care professionals in the provision of end-of-life and palliative care services, she said, “and I think that NASW was able to engage the class in such a way that these issues, some controversial, were presented in a thought-provoking way, while at the same time giving the class a sense that NASW is providing real-life solutions to these problems.”

Miller noted it was beneficial for students to hear from professionals who deal with the issues that individuals and families face in end-of-life care. It was also interesting to see how a profession can create measurable change through advocacy, policy, media and practice, she said.

NASW is supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. The annual observance is sponsored by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Participants are encouraged to spread this year’s core message, “My World… Your World… Our World — Free of Elder Abuse.”

INPEA has a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day resource library and tool kit at that provides press releases, community resource tools, a fact sheet and core message materials.

NASW Social Work Pioneer® Pat Brownel, former New York City NASW Chapter president, is working to promote WEAAD. She collaborated in the successful campaign to have the day recognized by the United Nations as an official U.N. Day. Other nongovernmental organizations with consultative status at the U.N., such as the International Federation of Social Workers, also participated in this successful campaign, she said.

In the U.S., the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse — whose president, Georgia Anetzberger, is a member of NASW — promotes awareness of elder abuse through its website. The National Center on Elder Abuse, also provides information on elder abuse awareness, services and resources for social workers who serve older adults and their families.

Elder abuse awareness is particularly critical as many countries are experiencing rapidly aging populations, according to INPEA. For example, by 2025, the global population of those 60 years and older will be more than double, from 542 million in 1995 to 1.2 billion, according to the organization.

Chris Herman, NASW senior practice associate, co-presented a webinar on case management to the Global Social Welfare Workforce Strengthening Alliance in April. NASW is a member of the alliance, which advocates for and coordinates support to country level initiatives that help develop the workforce that provides critical services to vulnerable children and families.

Herman discussed the history of social work case management in the U.S. and how it remains an integral part of social work practice today.

For example, a 2006 NASW study of licensed social workers in the U.S. found that case management is a significant component of many social work jobs and that many social workers spend more than half of their time on case management responsibilities.

Herman noted that NASW developed standards in 1992 to address case management as a specialty area within social work practice. These standards are designed to enhance social work’s awareness of the values, knowledge, methods and skills needed to practice case management effectively. She said NASW is currently revising these standards in collaboration with a group of 10 members, all of whom have expertise in different aspects of case management.