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SOWK505 Lifespan Issues - Advanced Practice with Older Adults

Examination of key issues encountered in advanced social work practice with older adults, using a lifespan perspective.

A age-affirmative perspective seeks to counter the dominant “doom and gloom” understanding of later life. More and more New Zealanders are living to advanced ages and all of them strive to age well. That is, to grow old on their own terms. But prevailing myths, prejudices, and stereotypes get in the way. In this course students will encounter older adults who are ageing well - who are active in their communities and who find meaning and pleasure in every day. Students will conduct life-history interviews with these exemplary individuals to develop a broader understanding of the challenges and opportunities of later life. In the process, students will reflect on what they can do to prepare for their old age and to support others in ageing well.

Paper title Lifespan Issues - Advanced Practice with Older Adults
Paper code SOWK505
Subject Social Work
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (Distance learning)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,482.25
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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SOWK 405
Limited to
PGDipSW, MSCW (Applied), MSW

Teaching staff

Professor Amanda Barusch


To be advised

Paper Structure

This is a distance taught programme utilising Blackboard.

Teaching Arrangements

This is a distance taught programme with a requirement for 1-2 oncampus workshops. Information will be provided separately to students about the workshop requirements.


Information on texts will be available before the course commences.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will be able to:

  • Describe the major theories of adult development and ageing.
  • Understand the impacts of family, social, and cultural contexts on adult development and ageing.
  • Discuss common assumptions and misperceptions that can influence social work practice and social policy affecting older adults.
  • Think critically about own developmental experiences and their implications for practice.
  • Connect individual developmental experiences to major theories and research on adult development and ageing.
  • Apply knowledge and skills to assess the needs and strengths of older adults and their families.
  • Sort through major value issues related to social work with older adults (ie: beneficence & autonomy, care & empowerment)
  • Describe major intervention approaches used in work with older adults.
  • Identify the unique needs and issues faced by vulnerable groups (ie: LGBT, people of colour, people with disabilities, those with low incomes) in later life.
  • Discuss major policies and conditions that influence the experience of ageing in New Zealand.

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system