What has shaped my professional and personal interest in pursuing social work in long-term care

While I am still continuously reflecting on my interests and what sector I hope to work in (even what career I hope to pursue), pursuing social work in long-term care has always been something that has been of interest to me.

I grew up with many elderly relatives in my family. Personally, my grandfather and my great aunt were two elderly people who significantly impacted my life. They were the ones who picked me up from school, would watch me when my parents could not, and had a significant hand in raising me. While there were other elderly relatives in my life, they did not have as much of an impact on my life or passed away when I was young. My grandmother passed away when I was two after battling leukemia, and my other set of grandparents passed away before I was even born.

Growing up with older people around me, I would remember my mom or aunt driving their parents to many different doctor’s appointments, refilling their weekly pillboxes, and I remember how much responsibility it was caring for an elder. I did not know any older people living in long-term care, but I remember my aunt considering putting my great aunt in a long-term care home.

I remember the vigorous process entailed in putting a loved one in a long-term care home. To start, there is a long wait time (some waiting lists were approximately ten years) and a lot of paperwork involved. This does not even mention how expensive it is for someone to live in a long-term care home. Remembering this process and the significant impact elderly relatives have on my life made me interested in possibly working in long-term care in the future. Not only that, but I do have some relatives that currently work in long-term care homes and have had relatives volunteer for long-term care homes in the past.

Professionally, I am interested in working in long-term care as there is much work to be done relating to long-term care policy and procedures. We have seen this during COVID, where many residents were contracting COVID and dying because the policies and procedures in long-term care homes were not sufficient. These issues existed before COVID, but they were exposed to the public more throughout the pandemic.

I am also very interested in working on policies that adversely affect minorities. When I think of a resident of a long-term care home, I know that I think of a white, elderly, heterosexual man, or woman. But I am slowly challenging this as many residents in long-term care homes have different social identities. Analyzing and problematizing policies and procedures that have adverse effects on minorities is something that is so critical. Within every long-term care home, we need to make everyone feel welcome within every single location.

With an ageing population, we need to look into the future and start working on policies and procedures that will help ease the influx of residents that are bound to come. Many of my aunts, uncles and even my parents are ageing, and there is always a possibility that they may live in a long-term care home. I know I want to ensure they all receive the best care possible, just as many others do too. That is why, both personally and professionally, pursuing social work in long-term care is something I am very interested in.

Author: D.R. (FCO Placement Student)