Role Of Social Work
Though the role of the social worker can vary from one team to another, several key tasks are essential for the gerontological social worker who is a member of an interdisciplinary team. The first is that of diagnosis and assessment. Here the social worker determines how the older adult and his or her family are functioning in physical, psychological, social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual areas. This will provide a holistic view of the persons involved. The second task is individual and group counseling, a very broad and diverse domain, the main focus of which is to help the older adult and his or her family adjust to major stressors and changes in their lives as a result of illness or various losses. The third task is advocacy. Older adults often find themselves having to deal with a variety of overwhelming systems. The social worker can help by acting on their behalf or teaching them ways to navigate these systems. The fourth task is acting as a liaison. This is vital when there is an interdisciplinary team involved. It can become confusing for the older adult and his or her family when several professionals are trying to obtain information. Having the social worker as a liaison with the various professionals is vital.
The fifth task is to serve as a community resource expert. The knowledge of community resources and how to access them is one of the most valuable skills of any social worker, but even more so for those who work with older adults. When there are multiple problems, there generally are multiple systems to deal with. Therefore having an individual who is familiar with these systems is indeed an asset. The final task is the coordination of care, which is both particularly important and very time-consuming. Many aspects of care are being communicated by various team members, and many agencies have actual or potential roles in the provision of care. Thus things can become very confusing unless someone takes on the role of coordinator.