On March 26, 2014, the NC State Department of Social Work hosted its spring symposium, A World Where All People Matter: Future Trends in Practice with Older Adults. It was planned and organized by Hannah Allison, MSW, Student Services Assistant, and a committee of BSW and MSW students. The keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Bullock, emphasized the need for students to be prepared to work with older adults, citing that 53 percent of Americans will be over 65 by the year 2020. Following the keynote address, attendees heard from a panel of practitioners including:
- Mandy Carter, National Coordinator of the Bayard Rustin 2013 Commemoration Project of the National Black Justice Coalition
- Matt Frazier, BSW, Director of Ruth Sheets Adult Day Care
- Laurie Ray, CMSW, C-ASWCM, Geriatric Care Manager for Right at Home of Wake County
- Jeannine Moga, MA, MSW, LCSW, Veterinary Health Complex at the College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State University
Pam Kuras, a BSW student and one of the event’s organizers, found the presentations to be practical, lively and very relevant. She noted the panelists’ obvious passion for their work, and also the emphasis on audience engagement and conversation. “I think conversation is a great one-word description of the symposium that includes not only that day’s discussion, but the newly informed, future conversations that the attendees might have with their colleagues and clients,” Kuras says. Attendees then broke into workshop sessions led by the symposium’s panelists. There were four workshops available for participants: working with LGBT older adults, Alzheimer’s and dementia, care management for older adults, and the human-animal bond and older adults. Kuras, who stepped into two of the sessions, heard discussion about the progression, symptoms, treatment, and care for individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She also learned what options are available for becoming certified as a geriatric care manager for older adults. In the workshop about working with LGBT older adults, attendees learned steps to creating and assembling a caregiving plan. The session on the human-animal bond with older adults focused on the benefits and risks to older adults who have pets in their home, as well as practical tips social workers can use to acknowledge the importance of animals in the lives of older adults.