Geriatric Social Worker Career Facts
A geriatric social worker works with the aging and elderly, as well as their caregivers and families, to find appropriate programs, residences and hospitals. A geriatric social worker would work with several different clients and their families, usually contacting them by phone, sometimes making visits to their homes, throughout the day. They would help the clients to arrange for home healthcare, including aides and nurses, find a hospice, and arrange for transportation and housekeeping. They also provide access to information on programming for the elderly, from educational programs to reduce isolation and encourage good health to finding an appropriate nursing home.
They will also assess their clients to determine if their aging is progressing naturally, or if there are symptoms of other illnesses, like a progressive degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s. They will also make recommendations for services and programs if their client appears to be isolated or suffering from depression. They will conduct interviews, make case notes and keep records for evaluation and refer to them when they make recommendations or are consulted by health care workers or law enforcement.
The geriatric social worker will also consult with healthcare workers, such as doctors, nurses and aides, as well as the administrative staff at various facilities. A geriatric social worker can work for government, for a hospital, at another healthcare facility, or with a non-profit organization. Some geriatric social workers may also work as program organizers, as well as consultants and advocates.
Dealing with Loss
A geriatric social worker's work can be demanding and stressful, since they deal with a vulnerable population, some with severe illnesses, who, unlike children, have enjoyed the perks of adulthood, such as freedom of movement and economic independence, for a long time. Many geriatric social workers also comment on how many funerals they attend, and clients, who social worker can come to care for, that they lose while in their charge, so a geriatric social worker will also have to deal with job-related stress.
Hours and Salary
Most geriatric social workers work full time, Monday through Friday, though they may occasionally be called out for a client emergency or crisis. Depending on their case load, they may work occasional overtime and some weekends.
Nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for social workers is $46,000 per year. Social workers that work in hospitals can make significantly more, approximately $48,000 per year, than social workers who are employed in family services who make $35,000 per year.
Opportunities for social workers of all types are growing at a rapid pace, and as a significant portion of the population is aging, there will be many opportunities for geriatric social workers. Some geriatric social workers will move into supervisory positions, acting as directors, mentors and supervisors for other social workers. Others will move into administrative positions, handling logistics, program evaluation, and service delivery and planning.