Bridging between the real and ideal practices of social workers in old age homes

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This article aims to discuss the complexity of being a social worker in homes for independent and frail elders in Israel, balancing between safeguarding residents' dignity, while preserving their freedom of choice. Data were based on an empirical study in which 84 social workers from 77 old age homes participated. Findings showed that the smaller the gap between real and ideal, the fewer the problems in job performance, the greater the perceived job appreciation, and the better the protection of residents' rights. In addition, the gap was smaller in homes with available legal consultation and an active residents' council, social workers who were not employed elsewhere, and who participated in relevant courses. The discussion addresses the nature of the gap between real and ideal. The consequences of reducing the gap are revealed, relating to a more complex meaning of paternalism versus autonomy than the simple dichotomy of negative versus positive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalHallym International Journal of Aging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Autonomy
  • Dignity
  • Freedom
  • Old age homes
  • Paternalism
  • Social workers role

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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