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Press Releases

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

SU Social Work Professor Explores End-of-Life Nursing Home Care

Dr. Kimberly van VulpenSALISBURY, MD---As national debates about end-of-life care continue, a Salisbury University social work professor is weighing in on implications in nursing homes.

Dr. Kimberly van Vulpen was the only representative of Maryland selected to present at The Ohio State University’s 26th National Symposium of Doctoral Research in Social Work. The event showcased eight recent Ph.D. recipients from universities across the U.S. whose work contributes to increased practice knowledge in the field.

One of two panelists in a session on aging, van Vulpen shared her study on end-of-life care in U.S. nursing homes. 

Her research identified catalysts and barriers to providing quality end-of-life care for facilities and residents. She explored how services supporting spiritual and psychological needs could be used in addition to addressing physical needs to improve end-of-life care.

“Social workers are in a position to help to facilitate change by serving, for example, as advocates for residents who face insurance barriers, liaisons for services, and educators for staff and families,” she said.  “Social workers can actively lead conversations about policies and practices related to end-of-life care standards and planning with residents and families.”

Van Vulpen said the symposium provided an opportunity to discuss the research of others entering the field.

A graduate of SU’s Social Work program, van Vulpen earned her M.S.W and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work. 

She worked for over a decade as a clinical director, counseling coordinator and social worker at Coastal Hospice in Salisbury and, since 2006, has served on several advisory committees including its Palliative Care Advisory Board, Pediatric Bereavement Team and Ethics Committee. 

In 2010, she co-authored the article “Unmet Needs for Home and Community-Based Services Among Frail Older Americans and Their Caregivers” in the Journal of Health and Aging and co-presented on the topic at a Gerontological Society of America conference.

Van Vulpen is currently conducting research with Dr. Katherine Hinderer of SU’s Nursing Department on the development of a collaborative end-of-life care model between hospice organizations and nursing home centers.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU Web site at      

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