Social workers help residents and families overcome challenges

March is Social Work Month and this year’s theme is “The Time is Right for Social Work.” According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), “ …this theme resonates because social workers are on the frontlines helping our nation overcome a variety of current challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inequality, natural disasters worsened by global warming to name a few.” The theme could not be more appropriate for social workers in the long-term care setting. In facilities, these professionals play a vital role in residents’ lives and are some of their strongest advocates. They help residents overcome concerns or challenges by collaboration with staff and clinicians to ensure optimal quality of life.

According to NASW, social work is one of America’s fastest growing professions and there are almost 720,000 social workers employed today. Qualified full-time social workers are a must for a facility with more than 120 beds, but federal law (42 CFR 483.40) requires that each resident “must receive and the facility must provide the necessary behavioral health care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.” This mandate places social workers at the center of ensuring that residents’ needs are met.

According to federal guidelines, situations in which the facility should provide social services or obtain needed services from outside entities can include:

  • The absence of a family or community support system or legal representative;
  • Expressions or indications of distress that affect mental and psychosocial well-being;
  • Abuse of any kind
  • Difficulty coping with change or loss; and
  • Need for emotional support.
Social workers responsibilities

Social workers’ responsibilities could include a number of areas such as advocacy for Resident Rights, assisting in grievance mediation, making arrangements for obtaining items like clothing or assistive devices, assisting residents with financial and legal matters, and providing or arranging for mental and psychosocial counseling services. Beyond that, social workers can serve a very critical role by helping the facility team understand the residents on a deeper level.

Social workers are trained to take a holistic approach to looking at residents so they may see them apart from their diagnosed conditions or behaviors. They endeavor to find out what is important to residents such as their wants, values and beliefs, and what makes them comfortable or uncomfortable. Having this insight about residents is essential to care planning. Social workers help ensure that a resident’s voice is heard in their care planning and that their questions and concerns are taken into account. 

Provide help for loved ones

In addition to helping advocate for residents, social workers can be invaluable in assisting families with adjusting to and navigating through the processes of having a loved in long-term care. They can be an important resource when families need to advocate for the care or quality of life for their loved ones. Their insight can help families during critical times for residents such as admissions, roommate changes, or discharges. They can help families overcome system challenges and mitigate any possible conflicts.

Always, we should show appreciation to the social work profession and the commitment that social workers make to advocating for residents’ mental and social well-being. The Compliance Store wishes all of America’s 720,000 social work professionals a very happy Social Work Month!

Let Us Help

The Compliance Store provides several resources to support nursing homes and social workers, including a Social Services Binder Basics supplement. We also have information on related F-Tags, policy templates, assessment forms, resident advocacy, job descriptions, care plans, competency checklists, evaluation forms, training materials and much more. 

For more information, contact us at 877-582-7347 or Learn how we can help you protect your facility and those you serve. Stay up-to-date with our latest resources and offers by following us on Facebook.