Performance Improvement 2007. What Is the Current Supply of Professional Social Workers in Long-Term Care Settings and What Is the Expected Future Supply?



This study assessed the availability of professional social workers in long-term care settings. The study quantified the current and future supply and demand for professional social workers serving older adults across the continuum of long-term care services. The study prepared recommendations for addressing any identified future shortage areas, including cooperative strategies involving Federal agencies, professional associations, and schools of social work. Generally, there were limited research findings across the range of long-term care services that demonstrated the efficacy of using professional social workers (and which could be considered in projecting supply or demand). In the absence of data to the contrary, the researchers assumed that the current conditions vis-à-vis substitution, regulation, licensure, and reimbursement of professional social workers in long-term care would stay constant going forward. Using data from the most recent National Industry-Occupation Employment Matrix, the 2004 Current Population Survey, and the 1% Public Use Microdata Sample from the 2000 Census, it was estimated that approximately 36,100 to 44,200 professional social workers were employed in long-term care settings.

If the ratio of professional social workers to the population age 65 and older remains constant, then approximately 82,000 to 98,400 professional social workers will be needed in long-term care settings by 2050. While their educational preparation, training and clinical orientation may be unique, social workers in long-term care settings often perform tasks, including assessment, psychosocial support, active treatment, and case management that may also be performed by other disciplines. There are efforts underway to include additional aging-related content in social work curriculum and to encourage professional social workers to seek employment in long-term care settings. It is unclear whether these efforts will make a substantial impact on the future supply of professional social workers in long-term care. Because of the uncertainties noted above, it is difficult to determine whether or not the future number of professional social workers will be adequate to care for an increasingly older American population. However, the likely increased demand for social work services will provide a strong impetus for continued job growth in the future.

Report Title: The Supply and Demand of Professional Social Workers Providing Long-Term Care Services: Report to Congress
Agency Sponsor: ASPE, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Bergofsky, Linda, 202-690-6443
Performer: Department of Health and Human Services (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in consultation with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Administration on Aging and Health Resources and Services Administration), the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics.; Washington, DC
PIC ID: 8348

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"PerformanceImprovement2007.pdf" (pdf, 717.63Kb)

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