From left, NASW Fund Development and Foundation Director Robert Arnold stands with NASW members Sherri Weisenfluh, Ellen Csikai and Gretchen Marcum Brown at the FHSSA event held during the NHPCO conference in San Diego in October. Arnold presented a check on behalf of the NASW Foundation to the Bernice Catherine Harper Social Work Africa Scholarship Fund.
In early October, about 1,600 people involved in the hospice and palliative care field — including social workers, nurses, physicians, volunteers, spiritual and bereavement professionals, and educators — gathered in San Diego for the 12th annual Clinical Team Conference and Pediatric Intensive of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
The conference agenda included about 30 social work presenters, covering a wide variety of topics.
Mary Raymer and Terry Altilio presented a two-day preconference, the “Social Work End-of-Life Education Project,” which teaches intermediate and advanced social work skills integral to effective social work intervention at the end of life.
The project curriculum, developed in 2001 by Raymer and Ellen L. Csikai with funding from the Soros Foundation’s Project on Death in America, has been presented to social workers across the United States and beyond.
A discipline-specific networking lunch for social workers —facilitated by Ellen Csikai and Sherri Weisenfluh, the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals social work section chairwoman — offered another opportunity for social workers to convene.
“The conference provided an excellent opportunity to connect with NASW members and other social workers, from new practitioners to national leaders in hospice and palliative care,” NASW Senior Practice Associate Chris Herman said.
“The theme of interdisciplinary teamwork throughout the continuum of care infused the conference,” she said. “This kind of collaboration has always been a hallmark of hospice and palliative care, and the social work profession plays a critical role in such partnerships.”
Concurrent with the conference was a celebration to benefit the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa, an NHPCO affiliate that builds partnerships to enhance compassionate care in Africa. During the “From San Diego to Africa” event, NASW Fund Development and Foundation Director Robert Arnold presented a check on behalf of the NASW Foundation to the Bernice Catherine Harper Social Work Africa Scholarship Fund.
The Bernice Catherine Harper Social Work Africa Scholarship Fund was created to honor Harper, shown right.
The fund was created to honor Harper, an NASW Social Work Pioneer® and one of the founding members of FHSSA and a current FHSSA board member. It supports social work training in palliative and hospice care in Africa. Additional information about the scholarship is available at NASW Foundation.
“It was very positive to see the depth of respect and appreciation that social workers receive from people who are involved in other health care professions,” Arnold said.
Throughout both the FHSSA events and the conference, the focus was the same: people who care about improving quality of life for people affected by serious or life-limiting illnesses.
“It’s an atmosphere and a field of constant giving,” Arnold said. “Although various U.S.-based hospices are struggling with their own financial burdens, they are still actively partnering with hospices in African countries to offer aid and resources, and that’s the spirit of what social work is all about.”