College calls for specialist ‘older people’s’ option in social work training

Proposals outlined in white paper designed to start debate on what constitutes 'excellent' social work with older people

The College of Social Work has called on social work courses to give trainees the option to specialise in working with older people.

The proposal is included in a ‘white paper’ on older people’s social work published by The College for consultation today. The report says that the specialism of older people’s social work should be offered as an option on both undergraduate and postgraduate courses and as continuous professional development.

The report also puts forward five priorities for action. These state that:

  • Employers of social workers should be clear with the older people in their communities about the ways that social work can support them.
  • Social work with older people should be recognised by employers, commissioners and the wider social work profesion as a specialist area of practice.
  • The role of social workers in policy and guidance relevant to older people should be clarified and strengthened.
  • Research evidence should be properly utilised to ensure social work with older people continues to evolve and improve.
  • The lived experiences of older people should be central to the continued improvement of this form of social work practice.

The College said that feedback from the consultation will contribute to a final report outlining the capabilities required for ‘excellent’ social work with older people. The report will be published in May.

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