Social workers play an important role in nursing homes, serving as an advocate for patients. However few are properly trained for the jobs they hold, according to the Iowa City Press Citizen, which referenced a national study on nursing home social workers.
The study, conducted by the University of Iowa, surveyed more than1,000 nursing home social workers. The results were shocking. Only half of the nursing home social workers questioned had a degree in social work, and 20 percent reported not having a four-year degree at all. The study also found that only 38 percent are licensed in social work.
Nursing homes with 120 beds or more are required to employ a social worker. Often times those nursing homes employ just one social worker, making it difficult for that social worker to devote adequate time for each patient.
Qualifications for social workers also vary from state to state, according to the study. Some states do not address qualifications for nursing home social workers, and others do not appear to comply with federal standards. Twenty-one states require a social work degree, and most others require a four-year degree, but not in social work, according to the report.
Social workers in some areas earn as little as $15,000 per year, whereas social workers in other areas earn more than $60,000 per year.
Mercedes Bern-Klung, the study’s leader says standardizing nursing home social worker qualifications is necessary for social workers to do their jobs properly and effectively.
Results from the national study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of American Medical Directors Association.