Social Workers' Encounters with Elder Abuse and Neglect: Giving Meaning to Their Experiences

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This article examines Israeli social workers' experiences of their encounters with elder abuse survivors and its impact on professional and personal aspects in the social workers' lives. Participants were seventeen experienced women social workers, who intervened with elder abuse and neglect. Data were collected via in-depth semi-structured interviews. Data analysis revealed three main themes: (i) 'Sensing the Pain': Exposure to the Complexity of Clients' Life-Long Suffering; (ii) Taking Home the Pain: Social Workers Dwelling with the Sensitivity of the Encounter with Elder Abuse and (iii) 'Caring for Them, and Letting Them Be Part of My World': The Encounter as Resonating in Social Workers' Professional and Personal Life Domains. Social workers' experiences of complex, sensitive encounters with elder abuse survivors appear to be a multidimensional challenge, involving both burden and growth. This notion can leverage the client-helping professional relationship, thus enriching and shaping social workers' personal and professional worlds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-582
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.


  • Ageing
  • Care of older adults
  • Coping and resilience
  • Elder abuse and neglect
  • Qualitative research
  • Social workers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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