Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
Social workers working for adult protective services (APS) face many clinical challenges to ensure the safety and well-being of older adult clients. APS social workers often interact with older adults who engage in self-neglecting behaviors that compromise their ability to function in a healthy and independent manner. The purpose of this research study was to explore challenges in direct social work practice to identify how APS services can be improved when working with the older adult population, particularly individuals who engage in hoarding behaviors. Using action research methodology, 2 focus groups were conducted to explore the experiences and knowledge of social workers who are trained in APS and in-home supportive services programs and work directly with the older adult hoarding population when investigating cases of self-neglect. The theoretical framework of cognitive behavioral theory guided the analysis of focus group data to provide insights into understanding the core manifestations of hoarding and how social workers working with this population can provide appropriate services. The overall findings of the study resulted in identifying improvements to APS service interventions. Study findings inform recommendations that allow APS social workers to effectively work with older adults who exhibit hoarding behaviors, while also advancing professional development in the field of social work. Understanding practice challenges to appropriately serve older adults that exhibit hoarding behaviors is essential in effecting positive social change in the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged older adults, APS agencies, and communities.