Resources for Nursing Home Social Workers

The National Nursing Home Social Work Network

COVID-19 is threatening nursing homes across the country. Residents, especially those with compromised health, are especially vulnerable. Staff without proper safety equipment are vulnerable. Families, unable to touch and communicate with their loved ones, are suffering. Social workers and social services staff members are on the front lines of providing emotional care to residents and families, going above and beyond the call of duty every single hour.

We are a national group of social work researchers and advocates, all dedicated to nursing home social work, and we have curated the list of excellent resources below to help support nursing home social workers, which we will continue to update below. We know that your skills and knowledge are needed more than ever. 

You are on the forefront and you are the backbone of emotional support during this pandemic, and we are thinking about you every day. Please let us know if we can support you in other ways.

-NNHSWN COVID-19 Resources Committee:

Mercedes Bern-Klug, University of Iowa; Colleen Galambos, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Denise Gammonley, University of Central Florida; Paige Hector, Paige Ahead Education & Consulting, LLC; Jennifer Heston-Mullins, Miami University; Nancy Kusmaul, University of Maryland; Amy Roberts,  Miami University;  Jean Munn, Florida State University; Joy Ernst, Wayne State University; Carolyn Daniels, Barry Univeristy; Joan Davitt, University of  Maryland; Elise Beaulieu, LTC consultant; Lilly Allen,  Louisiana State University; retired social workers: Roberta Greene; Rosemary Chapin, Bob Connolly.


Our email listserv provides an opportunity for nursing home social workers and social service staff to network and discuss issues related to nursing home social work. This listserv is sponsored by the University of Iowa School of Social Work, under the supervision of Associate Professor Mercedes Bern-Klug, with assistance from social work students, and typically generates 3-4 daily emails among nursing home social workers in our network.

To join the Nursing Home Social Work Network listserv, send an e-mail to, including your first and last name.




Ethical Decision-Making in Nursing Home Social Work

What nursing home social services can be doing NOW to prepare:

 Key websites to keep you updated:

Resources to support residents

Resources to support families of nursing home residents

Resources to support your staff

Resources to support yourself

  • May 28, 2020  ZOOM presentation by  social worker, Paige Hector, "Resilience in the Time of Uncertainty and Exhaustion" (1 hour--excellent!!)
  • NASW Social Work Talks Podcast: Self Care for Social Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic – In this 18-minute podcast, Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, talks about how social workers can practice self-care during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Breathing Box Method – This short video is part of the Take A Deep Breath Pranayama Series and guides the viewer through a Navy Seal tactic called “Box Breathing” or “Square Breathing” that is helpful in triggering relaxation in intense situations.
  • 10-minute Nourishing Breath Meditation – This short article describes mindful breathing and includes a recorded guided meditation.
  • Self-Care A-Z: Strategies During the Coronavirus Crisis: Three Lessons from an Administrator in Crisis Care – This brief article by social worker and social work professor Larry W. Owens, Western Kentucky University, offers 3 lessons to inform practice in the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Self-Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic - This section of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website offers links to free self-care activities (yoga practice, fitness workouts, socializing and chat apps, NPR Tiny Desk concert series, Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cam, Livestreams from the Metropolitan Opera), articles, podcast episodes, NASW publications, and other resources to help social workers take care of themselves.

Resources to support your family

The nation needs social workers prepared to work with older adults.

The federal government expects the need for gerontologically prepared social workers to continue to substantially increase. While social workers engage with older adults of all capacities and circumstances, there is a special need for social workers prepared to work with older adults in long-term care settings. 

One such long-term care setting is the nursing home.

Most of the nation's 16,000 nursing homes employ at least one social services staff member, and about half of the directors of nursing home social services departments hold a bachelor's degree in social work. Nursing home social workers help residents and family members adjust to living in the nursing home, with particular attention to assessing psychosocial and emotional care issues such as dealing with loss and grief, assessing and helping to address pain, helping residents remain connected to the community, and supporting residents in maintaining important relationships with family and friends and fellow residents. The social worker is the key staff member to assess and plan psychosocial services, although other staff members also help to deliver these important services. Social workers also help screen residents for depression and other mental health issues, and serve as resident and family advocate. Nursing home social workers work closely with activities directors and the director of nursing, as well as the administrator.

This website is dedicated to improving the care of nursing home residents and their family members. We seek to do that through providing education and support to social workers and to other social services staff members.