Nursing Home Social Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Reflections Behind the Mask


  • Priscilla D. Allen Louisiana State University
  • Daniel Leff Missouri Veteran’s Commission


COVID-19, nursing home social work, psychosocial care, social work in skilled nursing facilities, nursing home death


The majority of COVID-19 deaths between 2020 and 2021 were older adults with compromised health. Nursing homes in the United States were the highest risk places for death caused by COVID-19 due to the physical vulnerability of residents, close quarters, and staffing shortages. Skilled nursing facilities are required to have trained social work professionals to meet the psychosocial needs of residents—made more severe as a result of the pandemic with visit restrictions, limited staff, and few incentives—yet the placement on trained social workers of incredibly high caseloads and expectations was only increased during the pandemic. Our article provides literature relating to social work wellbeing, recommendations from us the authors, and includes a first-person account of our daily work life to illuminate the complex and rigorous, psychologically demanding, and still too-little recognized role of the nursing home social worker as a key agent for change, problem-solving, and essential care.

Author Biographies

Priscilla D. Allen, Louisiana State University

Priscilla D. Allen, PhD, LMSW is Sister Michael Sibille Professor of Aging and Geriatrics, School of Social Work, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA (225-578-1325,

Daniel Leff, Missouri Veteran’s Commission

Daniel Leff, LCSW is Director of Social Services, Missouri Veteran’s Home – Cameron, Missouri Veteran’s Commission, Cameron, MO (816-649-1632,




How to Cite

Allen, P. D., & Leff, D. (2023). Nursing Home Social Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Reflections Behind the Mask. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 29(3), 48–59. Retrieved from



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