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Social Work Ethics and Advance Care Planning for Persons with Dementia

Older adults with advanced chronic illness face many medical decisions. When an older adult has dementia (cognitive impairment), others will eventually be called upon to make these decisions related to care — for example, health care settings (nursing home, hospice, assisted living, etc.). 

This workshop, under the direction of professor Mercedes Bern-Klug, will help social workers provide information and support to individuals and families facing medical decision-making. The workshop is designed to address the Iowa Rules of Conduct for Social Workers as well as the NASW Code of Ethics, and will enable participants to:

  • Compare and contrast dementia, delirium, and depression and their impact on the ability of older adults to ethically participate in medical decision making, especially in regard to informed consent.
  • Distinguish the process of advance care planning from advance directives, including health care directives, living wills, durable powers of attorney for health care, and the new I-POST.
  • Develop competence in working with older adults and their family members (or other surrogates) wanting to practice ethical medical decision-making.
  • Communicate with other professionals in an ethical and competent manner about advance care planning.

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Mugshot SpeakerMercedes Bern-Klug

Mercedes Bern-Klug is an associate professor in the University of Iowa School of Social Work and serves as Director of the UI Aging Studies Program. She specializes in social work with older adults and family members.

Bern-Klug is the editor of the book, “Transforming Palliative Care in Nursing Homes: The Social Work Role,” and a regular presenter at the American Society on Aging and the Gerontological Society of America annual meetings. She is a reviewer for the Journal of Gerontological Social Work and the Journal of Social Work in End of Life and Palliative Care. She continues to be involved in community work related to advance care planning and served as an Alzheimer support group leader for 12 years. This year she initiated a national webinar series to provide education to nursing home social workers.

NOTE: This workshop is co-sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Social Work and the Briar Cliff University Social Work Department. Every effort has been made to assure that the workshop meets the criteria for the Iowa Board social work ethics re-licensure requirement. Participants should retain all workshop materials in case of an audit.


DATE: Tuesday, July 30

TIME: 9 a.m. to Noon

PLACE: Saint Francis Room (Stark Student Center)

COST: $35 (early July 22 deadline) or $45 (late registration fee)*

*University of Iowa School of Social Work and Briar Cliff University students, practicum supervisors, mentors and adjunct instructors may attend free of charge.