Social workers help long-term care residents and their families with mental health and well-being, and help them navigate the health care system. As key members of an interdisciplinary team, social workers help provide comprehensive care designed especially for residents. They also help residents and families understand goals of care.

Creating a safe environment built on dignity and respect

In long-term care, social workers provide care and build an environment that honours the dignity of residents. Every resident is a unique individual with a rich history, and social workers ensure treatment plans reflect individual needs and strengths.

Social workers honour diversity and different ways of knowing. They build an inclusive and safe environment for residents, families and staff. When needed, social workers advocate for and with residents to combat the harmful effects of racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

Role and responsibilities

Depending on the long-term care facility, social workers may:

  • Hold individual counselling and psychotherapy sessions
  • Conduct resident and/or caregiver support groups
  • Help residents adapt to transitions, grief and loss, and other challenges
  • Conduct psychosocial, cognitive and mental health assessments
  • Provide specialized care to people living with dementia
  • Help residents plan end-of-life care
  • Contribute in an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive care
  • Provide mediation between the facility and the resident and family
  • Support families and staff with grief and bereavement
  • Develop and deliver education to families and staff
  • Cultivate open communication between residents, families, health care providers and the facility
  • Liaise with outside agencies to offer additional support or augment what already exists
  • Advocate on behalf of residents with respect to issues like Powers of Attorney, Substitute Decision-Makers and other legal issues


Qualifications vary depending on the job title and location. Most social workers in long-term care must have:

  • Registration in good standing with the relevant provincial or territorial regulatory body
  • Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in social work from an accredited university

It is helpful for social workers in long-term care to have:

  • Certificate in Gerontology or Dementia Care
  • Experience or training in Palliative Care
  • Experience in long-term care
  • Experience in psychiatric or medical social work