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Geriatric Social Work Competencies Scale II

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Geriatric Social Work Competencies Scale II[1]


History of the Development of Gerontological Social Work Competencies



Two sets of gerontological social work competencies have guided curricular change in the classroom and field:



The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Gero-Ed Center Competency Goals, ensuring that all social workers attain a beginning skill level for practice with older adults and their families, and The Hartford Partnership Program in Aging Education (HPPAE) Geriatric Social Work Competency Scale, for the advanced practice level.


These consensus-based geriatric/gero competencies have been an integral part of the educational achievements of the Geriatric Social Work Initiative (GSWI) (Damron-Rodriguez, 2006). The GSWI, supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation, consists of four programs (CSWE Gero-Ed Center, HPPAE, Hartford Faculty Scholars, and Hartford Doctoral Fellows) that collaborate with social work education programs nationwide to prepare gero-competent social workers and improve the care and well-being of older adults and their families.



This document summarizes the development of the GSWI's competency-based approach to gerontological social work education since 1998:



SAGE-SW Competencies



The CSWE SAGE-SW Project, funded by the Hartford Foundation from 1998-2001, developed competencies from a process of literature review and expert opinion (Rosen, Zlotnik, Curl, & Green, 2000). A comprehensive review of the social work gerontological literature produced a pool of 128 possible professional competencies. In summer 1999, copies of the 128 items were mailed to seven social work gerontology expert consultants in academia, research, and practice. These expert panelists were asked to review the items and suggest deletions, additions, and modifications of the items. A pretest was then sent to social workers.



Based on the panelists' recommendations and the pretest, 65 items across 3 major professional domains were identified:



Knowledge about older people and their families (17 items) Professional skill (32 items) Professional practice (16 items)


These items were reviewed for redundancy, clarity, and specificity to gerontological practice. They were then pretested and reviewed by a convenience sample of 20 social workers in December 1999. The final questionnaire was circulated to 2,400 social work practitioners, educators, and researchers; of these, 945, or 51%, were returned.



Respondents were directed to classify each competency item on a 3-point scale. If respondents thought a competency was needed by all BSW and MSW social workers (level 1), they were instructed to indicate ALL. If they believed a competency was required only by MSW social workers, they were to indicate MSW ONLY (level 2). Finally, if respondents thought only geriatric specialists needed a particular competency, they were instructed to circle SPECIALIST (level 3).

In sum, the SAGE-SW Project, drawing upon a large national sample of educators, practitioners, and researchers, produced a comprehensive list of knowledge, values, and skills (competencies) that have provided a framework for all subsequent competency review and revision. This survey process is described in detail in the CSWE SAGE-SW National Competencies Survey and Report (Rosen, Zlotnik, Curl, & Green, 2000).

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