Social work careers in assisted living facilities may involve working with the elderly or with people who are ill or that have disabilities. Assisted living facilities provide various levels of services to their residents, and that along with the population they serve will determine what types of careers are available in those facilities for social workers.
Geriatric Social Worker
Geriatric social workers in assisted living facilities may do psychosocial assessments when new residents arrive in the home. These assessments take the person's social, physical and psychological needs into account and consider whether any special interventions are needed. Social workers may also provide counseling for residents about a variety of topics including the difficulty of adjusting to an assisted living facility after living independently. They attempt to link residents to any needed resources that the facility does not provide.
Geriatric social workers also act as advocates for residents. They keep abreast of current legislation and take action if they suspect abuse or neglect is occurring. Finally, they educate residents, their families, and the staff at the facility about patients' needs and rights. This could include education on culture and diversity. These social workers may have a bachelor's or master's degree and licensing and may have additional credentials related to gerontology.
Public Health Social Worker
Another possibility for a social work career in an assisted living facility is becoming a public health social worker. Also known as medical social workers, they may work in assisted living facilities for people who are in these facilities because of an illness. These illnesses may be chronic, acute, terminal or temporary. If they work with people who will eventually be released from the facility, one of their roles is to prepare them to reintegrate into life outside the facility. They may counsel family members and caregivers and advocate for patients, and they provide psychological support for patients. While some people in this position may have a bachelor's degree, a master's degree in social work along with licensing may be required for many positions.
Disability Social Worker
Some disability social workers may opt for a career in an assisted living facility. These social workers focus on counseling and advocating for residents. Their clients may have developmental or physical disabilities. Social workers may also work with family members, counseling them and linking them to needed resources. They may train staff in dealing with the psychological needs of residents and create programs that address residents' social needs. Some assisted living facilities for disabled people may be transitional in nature, and when that is the case, social workers may help prepare residents to move into employment and housing. Disability social workers also keep abreast of laws and regulations regarding disabled people and inform clients of their rights. This position also may require either a bachelor's or a master's degree.
Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Online Masters in Social Work
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that overall, social work jobs will grow much faster than average with some specialties expanding faster than others. For example, jobs for medical social workers are expected to see a particular increase at 20 percent compared to an overall growth in the field of around 16 percent. Social work can be an excellent career choice for people who have empathy and patience and want to help others, and there should be a number of opportunities for social work careers in assisted living facilities in the years ahead.