Skip to main content

Future directions for investment: Social work with older people

In the comprehensive report, Social work with older people: a vision for the future (the Vision report) we make the case for social work with older people and their families. Given the joint challenge of the UK’s ageing population and public sector austerity measures we argue that now is the time to invest in specialist social work with older people and address the multilayered, complex issues that face many frail elders, their families and an overstretched health and social care economy.

In this shorter supplementary report, we focus mainly on Future directions for investment: Social work with older people.1 We not only believe strongly that there is a future for social work with older people, but that it is a necessity for health and social care services, professionals and providers and most importantly, for current and future generations of older people and family carers. Our overarching goal is to make the case for investment in specialist social work with older people, (re-) establish its aims, purpose and rationale, and reinvigorate academic and professional interest in it as a core dimension of the UK’s strategy to support its ageing population.

Part of the case for investment is an economic one. Specialist social work with older people offers value for money, particularly in relation to: preventing (further) deterioration in older people’s health and quality of life; reducing the use of expensive acute services; facilitating more effective use of health and social care resources; and leading and engaging with communities, families and users to develop sustainable care and support. The authors of the two reports feel very strongly, however, that the economic case is only part of the argument. While committed to building a strong economic case, the authors are concerned that this does not eclipse the broader moral, legal, and professional case for social work with older people or become synonymous with narrow and uncritical notions of effectiveness.