Palliative and End-of-Life Care Training Workshop Held at NYU Shanghai

The NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai hosted a two-day intensive training workshop on palliative and end-of-life care June 28–29, 2015, co-sponsored by the Shanghai Social Worker Association (SSA). Clinical Associate Professor Susan Gerbino and Dr. Esther Chachkes, former Director of Social Work and Therapeutic Recreation at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, were delivered the training and shared their perspectives and approaches in delivering palliative and end-of-life care services in the United States. The workshop attracted more than fifty participants, including medical doctors and nurses, hospital and medical social workers, and social work practitioners from local social service agencies.

Serving as Director of the Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End-of-Life Care (PELC), Gerbino has significant experience educating NYU Silver MSW students to become advanced PELC professionals, working with people with life-limiting illnesses and the bereaved. Chachkes has dedicated her career to delivering palliative care. She led the task force to implement a palliative care consultation program at the NYU Langone Medical Center and was the recipient of a federal grant to train psychosocial volunteers to assist during disasters.

During the two-day training, Gerbino and Chachkes presented an overview of palliative and end-of-life care in the United States, discussing essential elements of the field, the necessity of employing interdisciplinary teams, the roles and functions of social workers in PELC, and the various modes of care delivery. They also shared the current models of practice working with patients and families at end-of-life in the United States, focusing on the importance of listening to patients and valuing their knowledge and perspectives. Various intervention concepts were presented and participants were particularly engrossed in the hands-on role-play in the practice of the Dignity Project with Gerbino. Dr. Gerbino also emphasized the importance of social worker interventions to help bereaved adults with mourning and continuing bonds with family, friends, and society.

Following the presentation on June 29, the participants had an opportunity to visit the Yingbo Community Health Service Center, a local agency where the nurse-in-chief and two social workers from Hand-in-Hand Life Care Development Center shared their experiences of delivering palliative care to patients and family members over the past ten years.

Throughout the workshop participants participated in discussions about the similarities and differences between Chinese and American intervention models. The workshop provided a platform for local practitioners from various disciplines and professions to learn more about palliative and end-of-life care in the United States, and helped promote exchanges between Chinese and American social workers.

While there are still hurdles to achieving a stable infrastructure and delivery system, thanks to collaborations like this, between the NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development at NYU Shanghai and the Shanghai Social Worker Association, and the extensive resource and human investments of the last ten years, Shanghai is leading the way advancing palliative and end-of-life care in China.