Gerontological Social Work: Reflections on its Role, Purpose and Value



Ray M, Milne A, Beech C, Phillips J, Richards S, Sullivan MP, Tanner D & Lloyd L (2015) Gerontological Social Work: Reflections on its Role, Purpose and Value. British Journal of Social Work, 45 (4), pp. 1296-1312.

Over the last twenty years, successive welfare policies have undermined gerontological social work as a specialist area of social work practice. The UK's ageing population offers an opportunity for gerontological social work to rebuild itself. Increasing numbers of older people with long-term conditions, significant growth in the population of family carers and enhanced community-based living for people with long-term needs combine to reposition social work as—potentially—playing a crucial role in the achievement of key policy goals. The particular skill and knowledge set of social workers uniquely equips them to manage the intersection of issues that currently challenge health and welfare services: complex needs, risk, transitions, end of life, carer stress and frailty. That older service users value the approach, input and expertise of social workers and that social workers have greater capacity to deliver sustainable support are also relevant. For gerontological social work to have a future, not only is it required to reclaim its specialist role, but it must re-establish its commitment to social justice, invest in building an evidence base of effectiveness and embed ageing-related teaching in the social work curriculum.

Gerontological; older people; social work

British Journal of Social Work: Volume 45, Issue 4

Publication date30/06/2015
Publication date online16/01/2014
Date accepted by journal01/11/2013
PublisherOxford University Press

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