Social Workers in Long-Term Care

When I mention to someone that I am studying social work and thinking about working in the Long-Term Care sector, the first question I get asked is, “so you want to be a PSW?” Although some social workers do work as Personal Support Workers (PSWs), there are so many different jobs social workers can do within Long-Term Care. Social workers can work on the policy aspect of Long-Term Care, they can work on advocacy for residents and families, and so on.

A key aspect of social work is striving for social justice. One of the main goals is to create an equitable world for all, as we know that those who fall out of society’s norms face oppression and marginalization. This has been demonstrated through sexism, ageism, homophobia, and ableism, whereby women, the elderly (and sometimes even the young), those a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and those with any form of disability are oppressed due to factors that are out of their control. Social workers doing advocacy work in Long-Term Care Homes can help work towards minimizing the oppression marginalized groups in LTC face. So can social workers who are working in policy related to long-term care as they can help form and create policies that also limit this oppression.

Social workers can also help mediate any conflicts that may arise between the resident, family, or even the team providing care. Some social workers are trained mediators, and some have a wide variety in conflict resolution. This can be an asset when working in long-term care homes as conflict is inevitable to occur.

Social workers can also help make the transition into long-term care as easy as possible. They can find and allocate the resources needed for each resident and understand their needs and their history to find the best possible resources.

As we can see, social workers can do a wide variety of things within long-term care homes. Since many social workers working in long-term care strive to create an equitable living setting for residents, this can enhance residents’ experience with long-term care. Some may find that they will better enjoy their living conditions with a social worker present and constantly advocating for them. Some may also find the transition to living in long-term care may be easier with the help of a social worker. And some residents may even feel that any conflict that arises is handled effectively due to the help of a social worker.

All in all, having social workers in long-term care homes is essential to ensure these long-term care homes run smoothly and effectively. Especially with the ageing population, more and more social workers are going to be needed in long-term care homes. With baby boomers starting to enter long-term care homes, the influx of residents will continue to rise, and so will the need for social workers. Social workers can be of great benefit to all involved to other staff of long-term care homes and families of residents. Social workers are not just of benefit to residents alone.

Author: D.R. (FCO Placement Student)