Social Work With Older Adults: Real Students, Real Clients, Real Growth
by Judith R. Smith
Under the guidance of their insightful supervisors, social work interns practice engagement, assessment, and termination skills with older clients, while also learning about the concrete needs of this population.
The field of social work offers a variety of areas of practice and populations with which to work. Young children, adolescents, and the elderly are groups often served by social workers. As each age group has a unique set of needs, social workers must develop skills to best meet the needs of each group.

This video presents social work with the elderly from the perspective of several new social work students, and shows various interventions with older clients, from groups to home visits. One intern is shown planning and facilitating a "checking in" group for older clients. The group members quickly become engaged and begin to generate discussions on their own, showing the significance of the support the group provides. Other interns are shown helping clients arrange for in-home help, a common intervention with elderly clients whose concrete needs are often neglected. These interns must also address their clients' resistance to help and their fear of losing independence. In addition to these interventions, interns are shown having regular meetings with their clients, talking about their week and providing clients with some much-needed interaction. This intervention illustrates the importance of listening in social work, and helps the elderly clients through their feelings of isolation.

The social work interns exhibit personal and professional growth as the video progresses. They learn how to engage their elderly clients, what health and safety matters to address, and how to help their clients accept the eventual termination of their work together. Through it all, their supervisors are seen guiding them and offering thought-provoking suggestions. The supervisors encourage the interns who are dealing with resistant clients, validate them for the support they are providing, and challenge them to look at themselves when feelings of ageism arise.

This video offers a fundamental look at the responsibilities and skills of social workers who work with the elderly, and the learning process of students as they hone those skills.
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As people are living longer, the elderly population is increasing and in need of help. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work with elders, this video is for you. In it you'll see the interventions and skills required for social workers who devote their practice to helping older clients. You'll develop ideas from watching actual student supervision meetings. And you'll take note of your own views about this growing population.

From watching this video, you will:
  • Learn some of the foundations of working with older populations, such as how to engage clients, the health and safety matters to address, and how to handle termination.
  • Watch examples of several interventions with older clients, including group work, concrete services, and supportive home visits.
  • Gain insight into the emotions of older clients and learn how to handle their resistance to help and fear of losing independence.
  • Increase your sensitivity to this population by recognizing any preconceptions you have about the elderly.

Length of video: 1:01:39

Number of Discs: 0

English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD

This DVD plays in

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-480-0

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-480-2

Judith R. Smith, LCSW, is an Associate Professor at Graduate School of Social Services at Fordham University. Her filmmaking is informed by her clinical experience as a psychotherapist, a social work researcher and professor. During her forty-year career as a clinical social worker and academic, she has produced many educational films which have grown out of her direct practice and teaching. In addition to the videos sold here, Smith’s film credits include “The separation-individuation process: The psychological birth of the human infant” produced by the Margaret Mahler Foundation; and “The Woman’s Film” produced by San Francisco Newsreel.

See all Judith Smith videos.

CE credits: 1

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn some of the foundations of working with older populations, such as how to engage clients, the health and safety matters to address, and how to handle termination.
  • Watch examples of several interventions with older clients, including group work, concrete services, and supportive home visits.
  • Gain insight into the emotions of older clients and learn how to handle their resistance to help and fear of losing independence.
  • Increase your sensitivity to this population by recognizing any preconceptions you have about the elderly.
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