Practice Standards Focus on Family Caregivers of Older Adults

Jan 17, 2012

By Paul R. Pace, NEWS Staff

“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, available for a free download at, 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 An archived version of the webinar can be found at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.

From the January 2012 NASW News. NASW members click here for the full story.