The choice to place a loved one into the care of a nursing home can be stressful and emotional. Choosing the right facility for your loved one can be even more frustrating. What should you look for in a nursing home? Where should you begin? Will insurance cover the costs? The list of questions is endless. 

To help ease the process and alleviate some of the stress, the best person to contact in a nursing home about information is the facility’s social worker. This person can provide you with answers to all of the pressing questions and will be responsible for seeing that your loved one receives the care and resources they deserve. 

Social workers perform several duties beginning with assisting families by providing information and helping them find placement. Once the clients make initial contact with the social worker, the pre-admission process will begin. 


Pre-Admission is where both the social worker and the potential residents and their families can ask questions about amenities, resources, services, etc., provided by the nursing home. Thus, the social worker is required to know the ins and outs of the facility to be able to answer any questions correctly. 

A tour of the facility is highly recommended* before the residents and their families make a decision. The social workers also conduct the tours, which provides more opportunities for future residents to view the facility and learn about any policies and services they might require. Families can also learn about visiting hours and in-room amenities that are allowed and available for their loved ones. They will be able to meet the staff on hand and get a genuine feel for the facility. 


After the resident undergoes pre-screening and decides to join the nursing home, the admissions process begins. The social worker will gather all the background information about the new resident in order to assess his or her needs and requirements. 

Upon entering the facility, the resident and their family will go through orientation to review the rules and procedures, become familiar with the area, and ask any additional questions. Orientation also provides a chance for the social worker to explain any programs or resources available to the resident. 

The transition period of moving to a new place can be stressful, so the workers will be available for counseling and making the transition go as smoothly as possible. 

The Plan of Care

Once the new residents are all set to move in and begin their stay, the social worker will create a holistic and comprehensive plan of care that meets each resident’s needs. The worker must have knowledge of all clinical scenarios in order to create the most efficient plan possible, including diverse populations and cultures, age ranges from children to seniors, financial statuses, cognitive impairments, special needs, and low-need residents. 

The residents and their families are encouraged to participate in creating a plan of care to ensure the proper care of the patient and allow the residents to feel they have some control in their new schedules. 

The social worker will perform formal assessments on residents to properly place them and document their needs and progress. Physical, emotional, and social needs are all factored into a plan of care.


Social workers will perform regular checks and assessments on the residents to ensure that each plan of care is effective and carried out properly. If a plan of care isn’t performed well or turns out to be ineffective, the worker will make changes. 

Modifications to the plan of care can happen with the resident and family present. Again, this provides the resident with a sense of independence and allows the family to express their concerns. 

In intervention stages, it is the responsibility of the social worker to solve problems and resolve any complaints that may arise. Workers will be aware of services for any issues including abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and financial assistance. 

If a loved one in a facility expresses concern to a family member or friend on the outside, that person should immediately call the facility’s social worker and address the issue. 

People in nursing homes possess the same rights and basic needs as anyone else, and therefore should not be neglected or deprived of proper care. 

The social worker is a vital member of a nursing home’s team and will be key in ensuring that your loved one is taken good care of.  If you are considering exploring nursing homes, reach out to the social workers at each place of interest. They will help you along the path and make a potentially stressful situation as effortless as possible. 

“The Role of the Social Worker in the Long-Term Health Facility.” Missouri Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program , 2008. https://health.mo.gov/seniors/ombudsman/pdf/RoleLTCsocialworker.pdf