Date of Conferral



Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Social Work


Debora S. Rice


Within the social work profession, there is a lack of understanding about self-care practices of social workers working with older adults. This lack of knowledge is a concern for the profession because as the older adult population continues to grow, so will the need for social workers to address their needs. Using action research, a focus group of 7 female social workers working with older adults in the Pacific Northwest discussed the research questions related to their use of self-care practices and identifying strategies to increase the use of self-care. Self-compassion theory enhanced understanding the relationship between social workers' experiences with older adult clients and self-care. Coding protocols were used to analyze the data. Key findings provided a further understanding of the self-care practices of these social workers including the use of appropriate boundaries, effective communication, education about responsibilities and expectations, and advocacy regarding the need for self-care. Additional strategies to increase self-care involved mindfulness about job roles, primarily related to team and system barriers. Recommendations from this project included adding self-care to education and training in social work courses required for degrees, licensure renewal, and employment-based continuing education courses. By exploring self-care practices of social workers working with older adults, the findings of this study may bring about social change by increasing the awareness of current and future social workers about the importance of self-care and providing strategies that enable social workers to implement self-care.

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