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Social work in gerontology

Social workers are important agents in assisting older people and their families to meet the challenges of an aging society. In this capacity, social workers provide a variety of services and programs in the community and in institutions that are aimed at enhancing the quality of life of older adults and assisting families. Social workers also play a vital role in the development and implementation of social and economic policies at the provincial and national levels through research on aging, consultation with government and through social advocacy.


Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson

Core faculty


Required courses

All students will complete the Collaborative Program in Aging, Palliative and Supportive Care across the Life Course with no additional course work required.

MSW Program with Advanced Standing complete the above courses plus the compulsory course SWK 4510H Research for Evidence-Based Social Work Practice. SWK 4510H must be completed before taking SWK 4513H. Students take SWK 4510H in the first term of the MSW Program.

Related Elective Examples

  • SWK 4634H Family Practice Across the Life Cycle: Caregiving and Older Adults
  • SWK 4641H Social Work in Palliative Care
  • SWK 4641H Special Topics in Social Work in Gerontology: Elder Abuse
  • SWK 4641H Special Topics in Social Work in Gerontology: Aging and Health

The examples above of electives related to gerontology are offered most years but not every year, depending on instructor availability.

Practicum examples

  • Alzheimer Society of Ontario
  • Baycrest Centre
  • Black Creek Community Health
  • Centre Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Circle of Care
  • Extendicare Brampton
  • Family Service Toronto
  • Hawthorne Place Care Centre
  • LOFT Community Services
  • London Health Sciences Centre
  • Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Runnymede Health Centre
  • Southlake Regional Health Centre
  • SPRINT: Senior People’s Resource Centre in North Toronto
  • Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Toronto Western Hospital
  • Trillium Health Partners

The above examples of practicums are offered most years but not every year, depending on supervisor availability.

Career prospects

Students may work in the areas of case management, discharge planning, senior’s mental health (i.e., depression, substance dependence), caregiver support, dementia services, policy development, service outreach, program management for services supporting older adults and their families. Alumni may work at locations such as hospitals and other healthcare centres, long-term care homes, mental health service centres and hospitals, and government offices (i.e., Veterans Affairs Canada).

What competencies can I expect to gain from this field of study?

Students in Gerontology can expect to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for assisting older individuals and their families in meeting the challenges of an aging society. Students will learn to provide a wide variety of services and programs performed in community and institutional settings that aim to improve the quality of life of older adults as well as enhance the abilities of families to provide for their aging family member’s needs. Students also learn to engage in advocacy, consult with government and community partners, conduct aging-related research, and develop and implement policy on both the provincial and national level.

Gerontology: Faculty and students in the news

Master of Social Work graduate Ava Bowen FIFSW’s gerontology field of study strengthened Ava Bowen’s efforts to improve care for older adults
One in ten adults aged 65 and over experience some form of elder abuse each year in Canada
Prof. Esme Fuller-Thomson, FIFSW How Childhood Abuse Can Haunt the Senior Years
New book co-edited by Amanda Grenier offers a thought-provoking overview of precarity and ageing