The social worker’s role in homes for the aged: A twenty-year perspective

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In 1983, JDC-Brookdale Institute for Gerontological Research published Miriam Bar Giora’s study on “The social worker’s role in institutions for the elderly” (Bar Giora, 1983). Since then, there have been many changes in the definition and understanding of the social worker’s role and function within the residential setting for the elderly in Israel. Two decades after the initial study, the question remains: Have there been actual changes in the situation, and, if so, what are they? This article describes the research findings of a similar study conducted in Israel almost twenty years after Bar Giora’s study, and compares findings of the two studies. The comparison of two similar studies conducted twenty years apart, illustrates the complexity of the field. This article describes the changes in the perception and job performance of the social worker in homes for the aged in Israel. Some of the parameters illustrate predictable developments, such as the aging of the social worker population, and the increasing emphasis of academics in social work training. Other factors, such as years on the job, initial job definition and participation in continuing education, have not shown any progress. Finally, with regard to the manner in which their role was actually carried out, and the identification of gaps between execution in reality and ideality, it is possible to detect certain conservatism. The professional practice seems to be adhering to old-fashioned job definitions and has failed to implement or assimilate newer approaches to the job with its greater focus on promoting values such as autonomy, advocacy and empowerment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-69
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Work in Long Term Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Gerontology
  • Home for the aged
  • Long-term care
  • Social worker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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