Training Needs of Social Workers in Texas Nursing Homes
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What is the level of professional training and experience of staff presently in social work positions in Texas nursing facilities? Is there a need for continuing education in gerontology for nursing home social workers? These questions were the focus of a statewide survey of 1,137 nursing homes. Forty-three percent of these facilities responded to a mail questionnaire. Results of the data analysis revealed that the median for employment in the nursing home was 1.5 years, with over half of the respondents lacking any additional work experience in aging. Over one-third of the respondents did not have a social work degree, and 60% had not taken a course in gerontology. In addition, 80% of the graduate and undergraduate social workers had not completed an internship in aging. Only 3% of the social workers were licensed as Advanced Clinical Practitioners. The majority of the respondents, 90%, stated their intention to continue practicing in long term care. The top three needs identified in continuing education were developing psychosocial assessments, dealing with dementia, and treating depression. The research findings have generated questions involving the regulation of social work practice in Texas nursing homes, as well as issues concerning social work education in gerontology. Furthermore, the research results have demonstrated the need for continuing education for social workers currently practicing in long term care facilities.