National Report Addresses Nursing Home Quality & Promotes Value of Social Work

Apr 22, 2022

Image description: Photo of an empty bed in the corner of a room, topped by two pillows and a handmade blanket. A walker is positioned next to the bed, and sunlight is coming through a window with a curtain. The window is over a low table that holds a mug, plant, and open book.

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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:

Chris Herman, MSW, LICSW (she/her)

Senior Practice Associate–Aging, NASW national office

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