Gerontological Social Work: Reflections on its role, purpose and value

Mo Ray, Alisoun Milne, Christian Beech, Judith Phillips, Sally Richards, Mary Pat Sullivan, Denise Tanner, Liz Lloyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Over the last twenty years, successive welfare policies have undermined gerontological social work as a specialist area of social work practice. The UK’s ageing population offers an opportunity for gerontological social work to rebuild itself. Increasing numbers of older people with long-term conditions, significant growth in the population of family carers and enhanced community-based living for people with long-term needs combine to reposition social work as—potentially—playing a crucial role in the achievement of key policy goals. The particular skill and knowledge set of social workers uniquely equips them to manage the intersection of issues that currently challenge health and welfare services: complex needs, risk, transitions, end of life, carer stress and frailty. That older service users value the approach, input and expertise of social workers and that social workers have greater capacity to deliver sustainable support are also relevant. For gerontological social work to have a future, not only is it required to reclaim its specialist role, but it must re-establish its commitment to social justice, invest in building an evidence base of effectiveness and embed ageing-related teaching in the social work
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1296-1312
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2015


  • Gerontological
  • older people
  • social work


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