What older people can do for social workers

Last week I wrote an article for Community Care about the College of Social Work’s aim to make social work with older people more valuable and more valued. This is why…

In the third week of my social work training I started a work placement in a hospice. Over the 50-day placement I learned about loss, life, death and strength. Older people shared their stories and wisdom with me, and I loved it.

I was one of the few on my course who chose to do social work with older people and I saw the difference that good social work can make. Good social workers (and I wasn’t always one) look at an individual, and their context and history. They build relationships. They listen and learn. And they help people to make choices and get the support that they need.

As a social worker, I supported older people to leave hospital, go home, settle into care homes and prepare to die. I watched them reassure their families, reconcile their hopes with reality, and respond to what life threw at them. I once asked a woman how she would manage when she went home from hospital. She said ‘I drove an ambulance in the war, love, so I think I’ll cope.’

At the College of Social Work annual conference in January, I was lucky to meet some of a team of social worker academics, called the G8, who know and care about social work with older people. They wrote about the difference that social work with older people can make in a Vision Paper for the College. Two of them came to the adults faculty steering group meeting recently that I attend. The faculty is now writing a manifesto for how social work with older people can be strengthened through practice, research and policy. The aim is to support social workers to share their expertise, advocate for the importance of their work, and inspire others to do this and to do it well.

I am hopeful that many more social workers can have their lives changed by older people.

The College of Social Work Vision Paper

Community Care article

Scroll to Top