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Fri, Aug 26



Supporting Clients who Choose Voluntary Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED): Skills & Resources for Social Workers 8.26.22

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Supporting Clients who Choose Voluntary Stopping Eating & Drinking (VSED): Skills & Resources for Social Workers 8.26.22

Time & Location

Aug 26, 2022, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM



About the Event

Workshop Description:

The NASW policy, Client Self-Determination in End-of-Life Decisions, states “Social workers have an important role in helping individuals identify the end-of-life options available to them. A key value for social workers is client self-determination” (NASW, 2003).

This workshop will provide an in-depth look at one of these end-of-life options: Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). VSED is often the only option for individuals who are facing imminent decline and suffering and may not qualify for MAID/DwD. It is legal in Washington but not widely talked about.

Due to advances in medical technology, rising rates of chronic illness, increasing numbers of elderly and longer life spans, there is a need for social workers in all fields, and particularly those who work in healthcare, with aging adults and geriatric populations, to understand this end-of-life option.

Workshop participants will gain in-depth understanding VSED and will learn about resources, including End of Life Washington (EOLWA): a statewide non-profit organization with over 70 volunteers across the state available to collaborate and support clients in end-of-life care planning and decision making.

Workshop participants will also work through case studies and small group discussion to build skills in end-of-life support scenarios utilizing “NASW Standards for End of Life Care”. End-of-life decision making includes ethical, religious, cultural, emotional, legal and policy concerns and concerns individual’s deepest fears, values, and beliefs. Social workers have training and expertise in working with complicated intersections of individual, family, community, and culture and have important role as clinicians, educators, researchers, advocates, and community leaders. This workshop will help advance these skills relating to VSED to improve care and support for those facing terminal illness and unacceptable suffering.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand what VSED is and what the process can look like
  2. Learn how to support individuals through the VSED process in collaboration with End of Life Washington and hospice.
  3. Be able to state challenges and limitations in accessing VSED.
  4. Describe how to apply NASW Standards for End of Life Care to VSED.
  5. Discuss how culture and values can complicate end-of-life decision making.
  6. Utilize End of Life Washington resources to ethically support the self-determination of individuals facing terminal illness and unacceptable suffering.

Presenter Bios:

Beda Herbison, MSW, LICSW came to social work later in life, after volunteering with a program called Shanti that provided emotional support for people living with AIDS and their partners and/or family.

She graduated in 2001 with a MSW from the University of Washington and worked for the VA Medical Center in Seattle in the Spinal Cord Unit, the MS Clinic, the Geriatric Clinic, and other areas of the hospital.

After retiring and caring for her father-in-law, who was dying of cancer, she began providing clinical supervision for social workers who wanted to become licensed and for Multicare Hospice until she fully retired in early 2021, during the pandemic.  She continues to volunteer with other organizations such as the Hardy Plant Society of Washington, the Northwest Perennial Association, Shanti's Inmate Support Project, and End of Life Washington.

Cassandra Sutherland, MPH is the Client Services Manager at Endo of Life WA. She is originally from Bellingham, WA. She earned her undergraduate degree in San Francisco before moving to Bolivia to work in sustainable development where she supported volunteers and local communities.

Cassandra used her personal experience of her father’s dementia and death to earn her Master’s in Global Public Health from the University of Washington. She values fairness, education, and adventure. Her work has taken her across the globe from Paraguay to Rwanda. She enjoys asking questions, staying curious, and learning new things.

As part of the EOLWA team, she is committed to supporting the community and showing up authentically. She passionately joins the organization to make end-of-life options readily available and is hopeful that one day soon every Washingtonian will be in choice about their death.





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