Jennifer Blum


Leveraging Social Work Leadership to Dismantle Barriers to Nursing Home Care for Seniors


Seniors (65+) represent a robust and rapidly growing population group. According to the department of U.S. Health and Human services (2021), persons 65 and older represented 16% of the population in 2016 and is projected to reach 21.6% in 2040. This influx of seniors, who will inevitably need care as they age, has resulted in a ballooning demand in the healthcare industry. The World Health Organization asserts healthcare is a human right, yet the United States has not accepted this position. The health care system is fractured by disparities in access, treatment and outcomes fueled by an undercurrent of systematic discrimination adversely impacting vulnerable groups of people such as seniors. Closing the health gap is one of the grand challenges of social work. One of many ways this health gap is actualized by seniors, is in access to nursing home care. Leadership is essential to the mission of social work. Leveraging Social Work leadership is a pathway to ameliorate this grand challenge. This scholarship takes a deep dive into identifying the barriers seniors experience in accessing nursing home care. It then leans into a triad approach to policy reform and employing journey mapping as a tool to enhance social work practice and the senior’s experience to overcome barriers. It is crucial for social workers to not only have a voice but a seat at the table to progress sustainable solutions.


Jennifer Blum is a dynamic social work and healthcare professional who is passionate about the senior population. Her Capstone project focuses on closing the health gap actualized by this marginalized group.
Ms. Blum is a Kentucky Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Doctor of Social Work Candidate with a concentration in Administration and Leadership at the University of Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Louisville in 2006, and a Master of Science in Social Work from the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville in 2008.

Ms. Blum has been serving the geriatric population since 2006. Currently, she is a Social Work Consultant, working as an Elder Care Coordinator at a Kentucky-based elder law firm. Ms. Blum is also a therapist with a local mental health organization. Her practice focuses on engaging in expansive social work from a poly theoretical perspective using a variety of treatment modalities to address the specific needs and circumstances of the individual.

Ms. Blum is an advocate at heart and is interested in furthering social justice issues. She serves as a member of an Advisory Board to a healthcare organization and as the Clinical Director of Family Preservation with the Kentucky chapter of National Parents Organization.