Resources for Nursing Home Social Workers

National Nursing Home Social Services Study

"This is the first Social Work Services LTC survey I have participated in-in my 20+ yrs. working in LTC. Your survey was very thought provoking to me as a responder. I felt the questions were able to touch on issues that were more than surface level and tended to touch on core issues.”

Thank You

Thank you, respondents! Those of you who took the time to answer the questions and return the survey are helping to educate the public and the profession, about nursing home social services. 


This project is being funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar Program.


Mercedes Bern-Klug, PhD, MSW
Associate Professor

School of Social Work &
Aging & Longevity Studies Program
The University of Iowa
Iowa City IA 52242
Direct phone: (319) 335-1265
Direct phone: (319) 335-1265 

Results and Publications

Survey Instrument

Publications Based on Data from this study:
Bern-Klug, M., Kramer, K.W.O. Chan, G., Kane, R., Dorfman, L., & Saunders, J. (2009). Characteristics of nursing home social service directors: How common is a degree in social work? Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 10, 36-44. 

Bern-Klug, M., Kramer, K.W.O., & Cruz, I. (2010).How many nursing home residents can one social worker serve? Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 22, 33-52. 

Bern-Klug, M., Kramer, K.W.O., & Sharr, P. (2010). Most nursing home social service departments are involved with depression screening. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.  

Bell, S.A., Bern-Klug, M., Kramer, K.O., & Saunders, J. (2010). Most nursing home social  service directors lack training in working with lesbian, gay, and bisexual residents.    Social Work in Health Care, 49:814-831.

Bern-Klug, M., & Sabri, B(2012). Nursing home social services directors and elder abuse staff    training, Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 55(1): 5-20.

Bern-Klug, M. & Kramer, K.W.O. (2012). Core functions of nursing home social services departments in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Directors   Association,November on-line e1-e7.

Questions about the Study

What is the purpose of the study?
To build understanding about nursing home social services.

Why are you doing this?
There has never been a nationally representative study of nursing home (bed size 20+) social services. In order to build awareness of the important role of social services, we need basic data.

Who is in the study?
We mailed about 2,000 surveys to a randomly selected national sample of nursing homes. Over 1,000 (1,071 to be exact!) respondents completed the survey and mailed it back to us, for a response rate of 53%. We compared the characteristics of the nursing homes that responded to the characteristics of those that did not respond, and found that the two sets are similar. 

Where did you get the addresses?
We purchased a list of the 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S. from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services.

Are the responses confidential?
YES. The database we are using to store the data we receive from the respondents contains NO NAMES of individual social service directors, or any of their staff members.