• Supporting Clients

    Posted on January 18th, 2009

    Written by Jaimie


    Will all the real nursing home social workers please stand up?

    As a social worker who works with the aging population, I can say with confidence nursing homes are frequently on the tongues of my clients. Nursing homes are never a place someone wants to be, but nonetheless, it is a place many older adults find themselves during the last years of their long lives. There is a lot happening inside a nursing home.

    Nursing homes offer a completely different culture, something that many of us have never encountered. Some may try to compare nursing homes to hospitals but patients are only in hospitals for a short time. Nursing homes become an individual’s permanent residence, based on an inability for that person to care for his or her own physical needs. Emotionally a life in a nursing home is again, comparable to no other experience. I am realizing that I could go on and on in regards to a life in a nursing home, but I must first tell you about a recent findings by the University of Iowa regarding staff at nursing homes.

    This study found that only half of all nursing homes employed degree social workers. Even further, 61 percent of nursing homes in this study did not have a social worker with a license. Read more at Nursing Home Standards. For me it is this is a pretty upsetting issue. When I try to critically think why this is happening in our nursing homes, I wonder, could this really all be about money? As the report suggests for-profit nursing homes are 31 percent less likely to hire a degreed social worker. Do nursing homes just want to find the cheapest way to meet the federal standards without regard for qualified employees? Or, is it that nursing home execs to do not see the necessity of Social Workers? Or perhaps both?

    Let’s talk about who social workers really are. Social Workers are trained professionals with an understanding of the personal experience. Social Workers examine all aspects their clients be it an individual, family, group or community. Each aspect is important in understanding the whole. Many social workers have training in mental health with the ability to identify depression, anxiety, risks for suicide, etc. Social workers understand how to handle a crisis, a major life transition, and family dynamics.

    Social Workers understand the growth of an individual, the life course. Social workers examine the physical, the emotional, and the social experience of their clients, and can identify the links between each of those aspects.

    A call for standards for nursing home social workers is most definitely in order. Not only must nursing homes provide for their residents a social worker with a degree, but these social workers should be licensed. Nursing home social workers should have a case load that offers them a chance to work with each resident as much as needed, in order that all the needs of the older adults are met.

    This may mean that other qualified staff must also be apart of the social service department to assist the qualified social worker complete all the necessary paper work and reports needed for our overseeing government. With more qualified social workers nursing homes may see a change in their residents qualify of life, standards of living will be raised. But now the question is, will the federal regulators see this importance, and or will nursing homes see the importance themselves?

    Picture courtesy of Zsuzsanna Schreck. View more of her photos at Rocketcat.blogspot

    This entry was posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2009 at 4:37 pm and is filed under Supporting Clients. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • 1 Comment

    Take a look at some of the responses we have had to this article.

    1. Marty Pryor
      May 23rd

      I am a Licensed Social Worker at a nursing home and have the same concerns. Not to mention the paperwork loads. It is truly the most holistic, demanding, and least respected position in a nursing home. I really relate to the article and totally agree.

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