Guidelines for Social Workers on Medical Assistance in Dying

College Committee crafts guidelines to support NS social workers

In June 2016, the federal government passed the legislation for medical assistance in dying (MAID). Canadian doctors and nurse practitioners can now provide medical assistance in dying (MAID) and social workers specifically in the healthcare field play a key role as they help clients grapple the complexities of exploring and requesting MAID.

When this option for MAID was introduced the College’s Professional Standards Committee, an evolving committee whose tasks and objectives fall within the College’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, was created. They went to work with the goal of establishing guidelines to support Nova Scotia social workers as they navigate helping clients who are exploring and requesting MAID.

To develop the guidelines, the Committee first reviewed the provincial legislation and MAID eligibility criteria and thoroughly reviewed the current Standards and guidelines of other Canadian regulatory social work bodies. The Committee connected with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) as they developed their policy around access to MAID for Nova Scotians. This policy – to be released – will govern medical practitioners including social workers as they work with clients in the context of MAID. See the Frequently Asked Questions here.

After over a year of research, planning and consulting, the Committee presented the College’s Guidelines for Social Workers on Medical Assistance in Dying to Council for approval in April 2018.

Regardless of a social worker’s specific role in MAID, the College’s Guidelines for Social Workers on Medical Assistance in Dying provides our members with an understanding of their responsibility to be aware of the extent and parameters of their scope of practice. The guidelines are based on the College’s Standards of Practice & Code of Ethics and on the applicable legal and policy obligations.

The College’s Guidelines for Social Workers on Medical Assistance in Dying highlights applicable values from the Code of Ethics and applicable standards from the Standards of Practice in five sections: Respect, Self-Determination & Informed Consent, Social Justice, Competence in Professional Practice, Cultural Diversity and Appropriate Referrals. 

Read the guidelines here

Want to learn more about MAID in social work practice? The Professional Standards Committee will host a professional development workshop this November. See the College’s Newsletter over the next few months to learn more.

2 thoughts on “Guidelines for Social Workers on Medical Assistance in Dying

  1. Thank you for providing this very helpful guideline. My compliments to those who contributed to its’ development.
    I believe there is a typo. Under “Introduction” the statement reads “MAID means medical assistant in dying and is defined in the Criminal Code as:”…”assistant” should read “assistance”.

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