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Core Functions of Nursing Home Social Services Departments in the United States

Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.09.004
  • Long Term Care
  • Social Work
  • Staffing
  • Nursing Facility
  • Communication


Abstract Objective To report social services departmental involvement in 52 functions. Design Cross-sectional data collected from a nationally representative sample of 1071 nursing home social services directors who were asked to report the extent to which their department was involved in 52 functions (activities). The functions were organized under the framework of the NASW Clinical Indicators for Social Work and Psychosocial Services in Nursing Homes. Setting Nursing home. Participants Social services directors. Intervention Not applicable. Measurement Self-administered survey. Results Eighty percent of respondents indicated their department is “usually or always” involved in a core set of 24 functions (out of 52). For each of the 52 functions, at least 40% of departments are at least sometimes involved. Conclusion Findings reveal both a core set of functions in which departments are “usually or always” involved, as well as many in which some, but not all, departments are involved. This variability of departmental involvement suggests that staff should clearly communicate the functions of their department so that residents, families, fellow staff, and the community know what can be expected. Future research should investigate how to maximize social services to achieve and maintain the highest possible quality of life for residents, address family concerns, and contribute to team effectiveness.

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