Social Work Practice with the Elderly

Subject SCWK90036 (2011)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2011.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2011.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 24 contact hours (8 x 3 hour seminars)
Total Time Commitment:

24 contact hours
16 hours of class preparation and reading
24 hours of assessment related tasks
= 64 hours total time commitment
= 8 hours total time per week



Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements: It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student’s participation in the University’s courses. Students who think their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Social Work
Melbourne School of Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Level 5, 234 Queensberry St
Carlton Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 8344 9400
F: +61 3 9347 4375

Subject Overview:

This subject aims to give students a sound foundation in social work practice with the elderly (gerontological practice). It will explore the impacts of ageing at the individual, family and population level and examine a number of different theoretical frameworks that inform social work practice with the aged. Using a primary (preventative), secondary (therapeutic) and tertiary (rehabilitation) framework, it will then examine a range of key settings in which social workers encounter the aged and the core competencies and intervention skills they will need to develop to effectively work with the aged in these settings. This will include psychosocial assessment in the context of the interdisciplinary team, working in the acute care setting responding to health crises, being engaged in rehabilitation in the post acute care setting, in discharge planning, in case management in the community and in a patient support role in long term care. Specific attention will be also be given to education, consultation and advocacy with the well aged in community from the perspective of local government and two contrasting advocacy organizations. The community development, research and policy planning role of social workers in relation to the aged will also be explored.


At the completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Have a good beginning grounding in some of the key demographic impacts of population ageing at individual and societal level
  • Be aware of policy and program responses to an ageing population nationally and internationally
  • Be clear on the social work role in intervention with the aged in both primary, secondary and tertiary settings
  • Be aware of the research base relating to the efficacy of those interventions
  • Have carried out an independent theoretical, research and practice informed analysis of social work intervention in one such setting.
  1. A written essay 5,000 words due end of semester and a class presentation
Prescribed Texts:

Hooyman, N., & Kiyak, A. (2006). Social gerontology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Minichiello, V., & Coulson, I. (2005). Contemporary issues in gerontology: Promoting positive ageing. Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin.
Lymbery, M. (2005). Social work with older people: Context, policy and practice. London: Sage Publications.
Borowski, A., Encel, S., & Ozanne, E. (2007). Longevity and social change in Australia. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • critically analyse texts and practices;
  • understand recent developments in social work contexts of practice;
  • link theory to practice;
  • competently communicate in ways relevant to both academic and practice contexts;
  • undertake independent research.
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Master of Social Work

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