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.
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 NH-SW-Network@uiowa.edu, including your first and last name.
COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR NURSING HOME SOCIAL WORKERS
Ethical Decision-Making in Nursing Home Social Work
- Wondering how to proceed as an ethical social worker in a nursing home during this pandemic? Gain some insights from this 1-hour conversation with ethicist Ryan Pferdehirt from the Center for Practical Bioethics: Pandemic Ethics for Nursing Home Social Workers
- Click here for a recorded Zoom discussion (April 8, 2020) of applying the 4-box method to a case. Click here for the case.
- Supplemental resources to help guide conversations with residents and/or families:
- Albert R. Jonsen's 4 Box System for Thinking Through Ethical Issues in Health Care
- The Four Topics: Case Analysis In Clinical Ethics Book Chapter from Bioethics: An Introduction to the History, Methods, and Practice (Jecker, Jonsen, Pearlman)
- The Conversation Project, dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care
What nursing home social services can be doing NOW to prepare:
- Get email addresses from family members.
- Document advance care plans.
- COVID-19 Response Resources from the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC)
- POLST and COVID-19 - info from Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment
- Patient Decision Aid - Colorado Program for Patient-Centered Decisions
- The Importance of Addressing Advance Care Planning and Decisions About Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders During Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) - (Curtis, Kross, and Stapleton) from the Journal of the American Medical Association
Key websites to keep you updated:
- AMDA - Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care
- Supporting Coronavirus Prevention in LTC Facilities, from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Links to Frequently Updated COVID-19 Information from National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation (NIHCMF)
- IHI Daily online 20-minute huddles discussing COVID-19 in nursing homes.
Resources to support residents
- Boredom Busters for LTC homes
- Specific phrases & word choices that can be helpful when dealing with COVID19
- ABCs of Combating Isolation - Shared resources from Pioneer Network to engage and connect residents and elders with their family, friends and communities as we navigate this changing world.
- Addressing Loneliness, Helplessness and Boredom - Ideas from the Eden Alternative, and opportunity to join weekly phone calls
- Helping Residents Stay Engaged and Connected - Kim Wolf, University of Georgia School of Social Work
- Observing and responding to dementia-related behaviors - from Dementia Action Alliance
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tips for Dementia Caregivers from the Alzheimer's Association
- Assisting residents with dementia who are prone to restlessness, wandering, or trying to exit - Practical tips from clinician/dementia care researcher Dr. Tracy Wharton, University of Central Florida School of Social Work
- Promoting Emotional Health & Preventing Suicide - (Pgs. 72-81) A Toolkit for Senior Living Communities from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Resources to support families of nursing home residents
- Families Anxious Over Loved Ones in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living - Article from AARP including excellent resources for families and a short discussion of factors to consider if family is thinking about removing a family member from a nursing home.
- Three Good Things Caregivers Can Do Now - Short video from Dr. Tony Back, co-founder of VitalTalk, professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Co-director, University of Washington Center for Excellence in Palliative Care.
- COVID Ready Communication Playbook - Communicating with residents and families about COVID-19 from Vital Talk
- Specific phrases & word choices that can be helpful when dealing with COVID19
- Engagement in a Time of Quarantine - Webinar from March 20, 2020 from TimeSlips Creative Storytelling, filled with inspirations and ways to connect with loved ones
- Alzheimer's Association 24-hour hotline: 1-800-272-3900
Resources to support your staff
- Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Outbreak at Canterbury Rehab – In this podcast interview with GeriPal.org, Dr. Jim Wright, Medical Director of the 190-bed Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Richmond, VA where 108 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as of early April, talks candidly about Canterbury’s experience and shares a downloadable “lessons learned” document that may help staff at other nursing facilities better prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak. Please note: This interview describes intense scenarios. A transcript of the interview is also provided.
- Understanding and Addressing Sources of Anxiety Among Health Care Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic – This Viewpoint published in JAMA Network summarizes key considerations for supporting the health care workforce so health care professionals are equipped to provide care for their patients and communities.
- Empowering Staff During Pandemic, by Paige Hector, LMSW, excerpted from Extended Care Products, Inc newsletter: Nursing & Assisted Living Facility Professional
- How to Reduce COVID-19 Spread in Long-Term Care Facilities: Challenges and Recommendations, from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Health Security
- Stress First Aid for LTC Staff (Ithaca College and University of Rochester).
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
- PSA video Grocery Shopping Tips in COVID-19 from a family medicine physician
- Parents' Guide to Coping with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis, from Zero to Thrive
- Helping Young Kids Through The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis, from Zero to Thrive
- Protect Your Family's Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic, from U.S. News & World Report
- Stress and Coping - Resource from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which also lists numbers to call or text if you are in crisis
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies - Information from CDC including age-specific guidelines
- Traumatic Grief in children, from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Host a Hero - Now, more than ever, doctors, nurses, auxiliaries and many other healthcare professionals need rest and isolation. We can make a difference by lending these heroes our empty houses.
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.