The nation needs social workers prepared to work with older adults.

The federal government expects the need for gerontologically prepared social workers to continue to substantially increase. While social workers engage with older adults of all capacities and circumstances, there is a special need for social workers prepared to work with older adults in long-term care settings. 

One such long-term care setting is the nursing home.

Most of the nation's 16,000 nursing homes employ at least one social services staff member, and about half of the directors of nursing home social services departments hold a bachelor's degree in social work. Nursing home social workers help residents and family members adjust to living in the nursing home, with particular attention to assessing psychosocial and emotional care issues such as dealing with loss and grief, assessing and helping to address pain, helping residents remain connected to the community, and supporting residents in maintaining important relationships with family and friends and fellow residents. The social worker is the key staff member to assess and plan psychosocial services, although other staff members also help to deliver these important services. Social workers also help screen residents for depression and other mental health issues, and serve as resident and family advocate. Nursing home social workers work closely with activities directors and the director of nursing, as well as the administrator.

This resource network is dedicated to improving the care of nursing home residents and their family members. We seek to do that through providing education and support to social workers and to other social services staff members.

For more information, please contact the National Nursing Home Social Work Network Director:

Mercedes Bern-Klug, Ph.D., M.S.W.
School of Social Work Director
Hartford Faculty Scholar / Professor
308 North Hall (NH)
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242

Nursing Home Social Work Network Listserv

Our email listserv provides an opportunity for nursing home social workers and social service staff to network and discuss issues related to nursing home social work. This listserv is sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Social Work, under the supervision of Associate Professor Mercedes Bern-Klug, with assistance from social work students, and typically generates 3-4 daily emails among nursing home social workers in our network.

To join the Nursing Home Social Work Network listserv, send an e-mail to, including your first and last name.