‘Timing Is Right’ For End-of-Life Care Conference

End-of-life care can entail numerous issues and emotions — not only for the client, but also for the client’s family and caregivers.

Because of its complexity, the “timing is definitely right for social workers to collectively convene and address critical issues in end-of-life care from our own perspective,” said NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark.

NASW will bring together social workers skilled in end-of-life and palliative care for its second annual practice conference, “Social Work’s Critical Role in End-of-Life Care,” Aug. 3-4 in Boston.

“We are creating a platform for candid and open dialogue about the many roles social workers play in providing professional services to care for clients and families affected by serious and life-limiting illnesses,” said Clark, who will be delivering the opening address at the event. She said attendees will learn how to make their practice part of the solution to providing better hospice and palliative care to an aging population with longer life spans.

The conference precedes the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s conference, “Developing the Care Continuum: Innovative Models to Meet the Unique Needs of Patients/Families,” Aug. 5-7.

Expert speakers include Kenneth J. Doka, professor of gerontology at the Graduate School of The College of New Rochelle in New York state and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America. His keynote address is titled “Challenging the Paradigm: New Understandings of Grief.” He will discuss the six challenges to current understandings of grief; contemporary research on grief interventions; goals and techniques of individual, family and group interventions; intervention strategies through case studies; and the value of rituals.

Susan Blacker, director of cancer services planning and performance at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, will present on “Social Work and Hospice Palliative Care: Where to From Here?”

Workshops at the conference include:

  • “End-of-Life Care in Nursing Homes” by Mercedes Bern-Klug, assistant professor, University of Iowa School of Social Work, and director, Aging Studies Program.
  • “Hospice vs. Palliative Care: Is There Really a Difference?” by Sherri Weisenfluh, associate clinical officer of counseling, and Gretchen Brown, president and CEO, Hospice of the Bluegrass in Lexington, Ky.
  • “Self-Care for Social Workers by Katherine Walsh,” professor, Springfield College School of Social Work.
  • “Cultural Competency in End-of-Life Care” by Karen Bullock, professor, University of Connecticut School of Social Work.
  • “Transformative Nature of Grief and Bereavement” by Joan Berzoff, professor and director, End of Life Certificate Program at Smith College’s School for Social Work.
  • “Social Work’s Role in Hospice: An Overview of the Research” by Deborah Waldrop, professor, University of Buffalo School of Social Work.
  • “Family Crisis Counseling in Disasters” by Grace Christ, professor, Columbia University School of Social Work.

A pre-event reception and poster presentation will take place the evening of Aug. 3. Presenters include the Social Work Policy Institute Summit: Hospice Social Work; NASW Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Credentials; the NASW Massachusetts Chapter; NASW Assurance Services Inc.; and the Foundation for Hospices in Sub-Saharan Africa.