Exploring complex and intertwined end-of-life issues
The client was elderly, widowed, and without children. She’d always been independent, taking care of her daily needs and making her own financial decisions. So, when her declining health meant the time had come for her to assign power of attorney (POA) for property to another person, she found the transition difficult.
Loyola 2L Matthew Bayens helped the client create her POA as part of a laboratory course exploring the issues accompanying health care decision-making at the end of life. An offering of Loyola’s Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy, the spring 2019 lab was a collaborative effort between Loyola’s schools of law and social work. The combination of legal and social work approaches gave students a broader context for what clients at the end of life face—and helped Bayens serve his clients more considerately and compassionately.
The course “was a game changer for me,” Bayens says. “In our first year of law school, students mostly work though the basics of a variety of areas of law, looking at everything as a legal issue. Working within the context of an interprofessional course is a whole different equation. It’s really broadened my perspective.”
Co-taught by Kate Mitchell, clinical professor of law; Nadia Sawicki, Georgia Reithal Professor of Law; and Marcia Spira, professor of social work, the Health Justice Lab: End of Life included an interdisciplinary panel of faculty and outside experts who led class discussion and client simulations. In partnership with Chicago’s Center for Disability and Elder Law—a nonprofit, pro bono firm serving low-income elderly and disabled persons—the class culminated in live client experiences under the supervision of the Center’s attorneys.
Taking aim at health inequalities
The Health Justice Lab: End of Life was funded in part by a mini-grant from the Health EQ Collaborative, a project of Loyola’s Health Sciences Division Administration.