On the edge of a new frontier: Is gerontological social work in the UK ready to meet 21st century challenges?

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

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

31 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the readiness of gerontological social work in the UK for meeting the challenges of an ageing society by investigating the focus on work with older people in social work education and the scope of gerontological social work research. The discussion draws on findings from two exploratory studies: a survey of qualifying master’s programmes in England and a survey of the content relating to older people over a six-year period in four leading UK social work journals. The evidence from master’s programmes suggests widespread neglect of ageing in teaching content and practice learning. Social work journals present a more nuanced picture. Older people emerge within coverage of generic policy issues for adults, such as personalisation and safeguarding, and there is good evidence of the complexity of need in late life. However, there is little attention to effective social work interventions, with an increasingly diverse older population, or to
the quality of gerontological social work education. The case is made for infusing content on older people throughout the social work curriculum, for extending practice learning opportunities in social work with older people and for increasing the volume and reporting of gerontological social work research.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberdoi:10.1093/bjsw/bct082
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Early online date10 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2013


  • Ageing and older people, gerontological social work research, gerontological social work education


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