Date of Conferral





Health Services


Cheryl Cullen


Rehabilitation and healthcare centers (RHCs) provide ongoing care to the elderly and chronically ill. To maximize the quality of this care, RHC staff must be properly trained to respond to patient care crises and communicate across departments. Although researchers have studied the leadership styles, strategies, and interactions of facility administrators and nursing directors, there is a substantial gap in the literature on the leadership styles and strategies employed by directors of social services (DSSs). The aim of this phenomenological study was to address this gap in the research by exploring how DSSs influenced leadership policies, prepared subordinates for crisis intervention and management, perceived that social workers influenced decision-making in patient care, and believed that communication amongst RHC staff about patient care could be improved. The conceptual framework for this study was based on 3 leadership model constructs: the multilevel leadership model construct, the situational leadership model construct, and the complex adaptive leadership model construct. Participants included a purposive sample of 10 DSSs working in large, corporate RHCs in Virginia. Data were collected via in-person, semistructured interviews consisting of open-ended questions. Data were analyzed via Hycner's phenomenological approach. Findings from this investigation helped clarify roles and responsibilities of DSSs, thereby improving the leadership they provide to subordinate social workers. Findings may be used to improve communication across professionals within RHCs and emphasize the important role that social workers should play in patient care decisions.