Can I Work in a Retirement Community with an MSW Degree?

Students with a Master of Social Work degree can work in a retirement community with that MSW degree. It typically takes two full years to complete an MSW, though many schools have advanced standing programs available for students with a bachelor’s in social work. Advanced programs reduce the fieldwork that students need to do and help them graduate in 18 months or less. Students who want to work with the elderly need to understand what the job entails and how retirement homes differ from nursing homes.

What is an MSW Degree?

A Master of Social Work is an advanced degree that students can earn from many colleges across the country and from some online schools. Most of the programs designed for those with little to no social work experience will require that students do two or more internships. They will spend 200 hours of fieldwork or more and then do practicums that include even more hours of fieldwork. Colleges can help students choose internship locations based on their career goals. Those who want to work with elderly clients can work in nursing and retirement homes.

Nursing Home vs. Retirement Home

Prior to enrolling in a degree program or applying for jobs, students should make sure that they understand that a retirement home is not a nursing home. A retirement home is a spot designed for elderly people in their retirement years. It does not offer as much medical help as a nursing home does because residents are more mobile and have fewer health problems. Nursing home residents need more care and attention. Those who live in a nursing home might have 24/7 access to doctors and nurses and see medical professionals every day. Retirement homes can help residents get medical care as needed, but that care is usually only available off-site.

Job Duties

Those who work in a retirement community with an MSW degree are responsible for a few things. They work as patient advocates to make sure that residents get access to all the care they need, including meeting with specialists for their health conditions. Retirement community workers are also responsible for making sure that residents have a safe place to live and that they do not suffer any abuse, including emotional or financial abuse. They also act as end of life specialists and provide care to residents such as helping them fill out a DNR order or talking with their families about the wishes of the residents.

Outlook and Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the government employs 14% of social workers and hires them to work in hospitals and other facilities. Nearly 40% of social workers now work in health care facilities that include hospitals. The BLS also found that the job will grow by 16% through 2026 and that the median salary for all social workers is more than $49,000 a year. One reason why the need for social workers will grow so much is due to the large number of individuals retiring in the coming years.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

Many people move to retirement and nursing homes as they age because they want 24/7 care and because they like living around others of the same age. Students can work in a retirement community with an MSW degree and help patients with their end of life care and other needs.