Resource for Caregivers Marks One-Year Anniversary

“Attention to the contributions, strengths, needs and goals of family caregivers of older adults are integral to social work practice.”

This statement summarizes the intent of the NASW Standards for Social Work Practice with Family Caregivers of Older Adults. The document celebrated its one-year publication anniversary in November. The resource continues to be used not only by students, faculty, practitioners and aging-services organizations, but also by consumers.

Sandra Edmonds Crewe, associate dean for Academic and Student Advancement and director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Gerontology at Howard University in Washington, D.C., served on the expert panel that developed the 12 standards.

She said it was essential for her to participate on the panel to further the knowledge that families play a vital role in helping clients as they age.

“I also see how important it is to have social workers work with family care systems,” she said.

In the past year, Crewe said she has presented the standards to a variety of groups, including as host of a webinar on the standards for the Family Caregivers Alliance. An archived version of the webinar can be found at

Crewe joined other members of the expert panel in disseminating the document in the past year. Spreading the word about the standards is vital, as caregiving for older adults is a topic that is seldom planned in advance. Social workers and other caregivers can benefit from reviewing the publication. “These standards help you help (clients),” Crewe said. “We must assume everyone (in social work) will be involved in caregiving in some way. We must prepare the professionals to maximize service and to empower family members and help the systems that serve families.”

Development of the standards was part of Professional Partners Supporting Family Caregivers, an initiative created in partnership with the AARP Foundation, the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Family Caregiver Alliance, and NASW, and made possible by funding from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

NASW Senior Practice Associate Chris Herman spoke about the standards as part of a panel on the Professional Partners initiative at the National Home and Community-Based Services Conference in September. Herman also will present on the standards with Jamie Huysman and John A. Hartford Foundation staff Amy Berman and Nora O’ Brien-Suric — all of whom helped develop the standards — at the American Society on Aging conference in March.

The standards have been disseminated to scores of organizations, including the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education, the Council on Social Work Education, the Institute for Geriatric Social Work, the Administration on Aging, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and geriatric education centers throughout the country.

Consumers have learned about the standards through publications such as the AARP 2011 annual report on the economic value of caregiving, which describes the steps health care professionals are taking to support family caregivers. It lists the standards as an example.

In other gerontological social work news, social worker Erica Solway, program director of Older Adult Day Support/Community Integration Services at the Family Service Agency of San Francisco, was recently chosen to participate in the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program. Past social work Health and Aging Policy Fellows include Gretchen Alkema, vice president of Policy and Communications for the Scan Foundation, and Kathryn Kietzman, research scientist at the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research.

In addition, Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, and staff of the NASW Center for Workforce Studies and Social Work Practice met recently with social worker Abigail

Morgan, social science analyst for the Administration on Aging Office of Policy Analysis and Development. Morgan is working on Partnership for Patients — an effort of the Department of Health and Human Services to develop public/private partnerships to help meet some of the goals of the Affordable Care Act. The initiative leverages existing and new programs to meet two core goals: reducing health care-associated injuries and complications and improving transitions from acute care hospitals to other care settings, such as the home or a skilled nursing facility.

Zlotnik said Morgan invited NASW to discuss the association’s efforts that relate to implementation of the ACA, transitions of care, caregiving and issues related to aging, health and social work.

“We also suggested that we would be pleased to find social work experts for various workgroups and committees that are being convened in implementing the ACA,” Zlotnik said.

NASW will continue to promote social work efforts with AoA staff, she added.