NASW Contributes to Development of Eldercaring Coordination Guidelines; Social Workers Sought for Participation in Pilot Projects

Jan 2, 2015

Posted January 2, 2015

NASW is pleased to announce the release of guidelines for eldercaring coordination, developed by the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination. NASW was one of 20 national organizations from the United States and Canada to participate in the task force. The ACR now seeks pilot sites and professionals of various disciplines, including social work, to launch and refine eldercaring coordination.

What is eldercaring coordination?

The purpose of the ACR task force is to develop the process of eldercaring coordination, defined as follows in the Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination:

Eldercaring coordination is a dispute resolution process during which an Eldercaring Coordinator assists elders, legally authorized decision makers, and others who participate by court order or invitation, to resolve disputes with high conflict levels that impact the elder’s autonomy and safety by:

  • state enabling more effective communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills
  • offering education about elder care resources
  • facilitating the creation and implementation of an elder care plan
  • offering making recommendations for resolutions
  • making decisions within the scope of a court order or with the parties’ prior approval. (Association for Conflict Resolution, 2014, p. 7)

Eldercaring coordination is distinct from, yet complements, services such as mediation, individual or family therapy, case management or geriatric care management, and provision of legal information or legal representation.

A somewhat similar process, parenting coordination, already exists to help families in high-conflict situations work out parenting arrangements. Eldercaring coordination draws on some aspects of the parenting coordination process while addressing the unique needs and ethical considerations of older adults. For example, promotion of older adults’ autonomy is a foundational principle of eldercaring coordination—and a principle congruent with social workers’ promotion of self-determination.

How will eldercaring coordination be implemented?

Practitioners of various professional backgrounds, including social work, may serve as Eldercaring Coordinators. The ACR Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination include the following qualifications for Eldercaring Coordinators:

  • master’s or doctoral degree
  • state licensure
  • completion of training in both elder mediation and family mediation
  • extensive practical experience in a profession relating to high conflict within families
  • completion of a 28-hour (minimum) Eldercaring Coordination training.

The release of the Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination marks the culmination of the first 18 months of the ACR task force’s work. The guidelines include the following components:

  • ethical principles for eldercaring coordination
  • eldercaring coordination training protocols
  • a sample proposal template, including standardized forms, that courts may use to pilot eldercaring coordination projects
  • project evaluation tools to be completed by older adults, other eldercaring coordination participants, and Eldercaring Coordinators.

These materials are available to the public on the ACR Web site.

The ACR task force now seeks pilot sites in which to test eldercaring coordination. Each pilot project site must include at least one judge in a specific circuit, jurisdiction, county or province who refers at least six families to participate in eldercaring coordination.

The ACR task force will support eldercaring coordination each pilot project site in multiple ways:

  • providing consultation to assist in the development of the project
  • facilitating the first training for individuals who are qualified to become Eldercaring Coordinators and will serve in the pilot project site
  • providing research support for the project site’s evaluation process.

How can social workers get involved in eldercaring coordination?

Social workers can play multiple roles in eldercaring coordination:

  • serve on the ACR advisory committee
  • encourage pilot testing in their locales and work with interested stakeholders to secure funding from foundations or other sources
  • become trained as Eldercaring Coordinators
  • following completion of Eldercaring Coordinator training, help to train other professionals for this role
  • volunteer to administer evaluation surveys to eldercaring coordination participants (can be done by phone).

For more information about Eldercaring Coordination and to learn how you can get involved, please review the ACR’s Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination and then contact ACR Task Force co-chairs:

Sue Bronson,

Linda Fieldstone,

Related NASW resources 

Chris Herman, MSW, LICSW
Senior Practice Associate