This year at the National Association of Social Workers Conference (NASW), the Department of Social Work was proud to have faculty member William ( Bill) E. Lamb (MSW, ACSW, MPA) present his research with aging populations.
In his presentation about self determination issues with aging populations, Lamb highlighted important topics such as; addressing the issue of competency with older adults as well as ensuring that social workers focus on the safety of clients first. Lamb emphasized that social workers treat their aging clients with respect but that they should not treat older adults as they would their own parents. Lamb added that social workers can get very emotionally vested in clients, so, in order to provide the high quality care that older adults clients deserve, social workers must draw the line between client and family. Social workers should also remember that "care giving is stressful" and that "if you are involved with older adults, you are involved in a family system."
Lamb also urged social workers to be aware of their clients' living conditions and the fact that older adults who are isolated, physically and mentally decline. He also emphasized that older adults need to be followed-up with after moving into the home of a family member. Lamb states that "a huge predictor of abuse and neglect is when an older adult moves into a family members' house." Should social workers see the signs of abuse with any client, they are to report the danger to the Department of Social Services (DSS). Social workers are reminded that they are not responsible for accusing family members or others of either neglect/abuse or determining competency, that is the duty of DSS.
Interesting findings include that on average, older adults are happier than the rest of the population as a whole. Lamb also addressed that helping older adults resolve issues allows them to live longer and retain mental clarity.
Lamb also combated the general public's' misconceptions of the number of older adults living in group homes. Lamb reported that only four percent of older adults reside in group homes. That senior adults are active within older communities and though they are very social, they prefer to live independently. Lamb also highlighted that 22% of older adults are living with two or more disabilities, 17% are living with one disability and 62% are living without disabilities.
Lamb is currently the President of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care and is serving as the President of the NC Coalition on Aging. Lamb retired after a 30 year career in state government in the Department of Health and Human Services followed by 13 years at the UNC Institute on Aging. He has served as the president of NASW - NC and as the chair of the NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board.
Written and submitted by Paige Moore.