Posted April 22, 2022
On April 6, 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a report entitled The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff. The report represents the culmination of 18 months of work by a study committee that included NASW Social Work Pioneer® and Wisconsin Chapter member Colleen Galambos. Study sponsors included the Commonwealth Fund and the John A Hartford Foundation.
The report includes several recommendations supportive of social work, including the recommendation that every nursing home—regardless of size—employ a full-time social worker with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education [CSWE] and a year of supervised social work experience in a health care setting (including field placements and internships) working directly with individuals to address behavioral and psychosocial care. (NASEM report, p. 511; recommendations, p. 3, item 2b)
The report also indicates the preference for a master’s degree in social work from a CSWE-accredited program for anyone serving as a director of social services in a nursing home.
Other report recommendations include the need for (a) federally funded research to inform staffing ratios for social workers and other disciplines, (b) clinical social workers to provide mental health services to nursing home residents and to receive Medicare reimbursement for those services, and (c) data collection regarding the training, expertise, and staffing patterns of social workers and other disciplines.
NASW applauds these recommendations and thanks the study committee for its work. During the coming months, association staff will read and analyze other report recommendations—including those not focused on the social work profession—and engage in the following activities:
- development of an NASW Practice Perspective to educate members about the report in greater depth
- submission of comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in response to its Request for Information on Revising the Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities to Establish Mandatory Minimum Staffing Levels
- collaboration with social workers, other disciplines, and like-minded organizations to advocate for implementation of various report recommendations.
Chris Herman, MSW, LICSW (she/her)
Senior Practice Associate–Aging, NASW national office