Being a social worker in homes for the aged: The real, the ideal, and the gaps between

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Various theoretical research studies, both academic and professional, have considered the important role social work plays in institutional settings. However, worldwide, very little empirical research has been conducted to examine how social work actually functions in homes lor the aged. The study considered here helps to address this, by describing three key aspects of this issue: (1) the function social workers in homes for the aged in Israel actually fulfill (their "real" function); (2) the role that these social workers think that they should be fulfilling (their "ideal" function); and (3) the gap that separates "the real" (what social workers actually do) from "the ideal" (what social workers feel they should he doing). The study's research findings show not only that a gap exists, hut also its essence. In the case of both the real roles social workers play in homes for the aged and what they perceive to he the ideal roles they should play, as well as in (he case of the gap between the two, "paternalistic" activities were emphasized far more than "empowering" activities, which advocate or promote autonomy. The data obtained outlines possible future research directions.identified while attempting to understand the factors that contribute to thecurrent reality of care in homes for the aged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Gerontological Social Work
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In terms of ownership, 62% of the homes in the sample were privately owned, and 24.1% were public-sector (government) owned. The remaining 13.9% were under charitable and voluntary organizations ownership. The majority of the facilities sampled (72%) have been in existence for more than 10 years; 20% have been operating for between 6 and 10 years, while the remainder (8%) have been operating for less than 5 years. In 52.7% of the homes considered, the majority of the residents financed their stay in the home themselves or their stays were paid for by their family members. In 33.8% of the homes studied, the majority of residents were funded fully by the Ministry of Social Affairs. In the remaining 13.5% of residences sampled, the number of residents funded by these two sources was equally divided between the two.


  • Empowerment
  • Gerontology and social work
  • Long-term care of the elderly
  • Social work among the aged

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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