Mirian Fernández Salido (University of Valencia-The Research Institute on Social Welfare Policy (POLIBIENESTAR))

Tamara Alhambra Borrás 
Alejandro Gil 
Jorge Garcés Ferrer 
Topic: Social Work and Motivational interviewing: an innovative approach to foster social participation among older adults experiencing loneliness.
Language: English 


In view of an increasing percentage of older adults experiencing loneliness, the discipline of Social Work needs to set, on an empirical basis, the orientation of practices in relation to enhancing and maintaining social support for older people in their communities.

Motivational interviewing is a therapeutic approach based on active and empathic listening that allows the detection of intrinsic goals, values, and needs, and helps to increase and strengthen the personal motivation and commitment to change. This therapeutical approach used by social workers may have the potential to promote valuable interactions among this population.

In the framework of the European-funded project VALUECARE (Ref.: 875215), a goal-based intervention based on motivation interviewing by a social worker to foster social participation of older adults experiencing loneliness will be tested in a longitudinal study pre- vs. post- study with 250 older adults from Spain (Valencia). Older adults participating in the social support program will be interviewed to know their motivation towards change in terms of social participation, as well as to identify their psychosocial needs. From this motivational interview, individualised objectives to move towards active social participation will be set as part of the social support program. The participants in the social support program will receive an individualized care plan to guide them to achieve the social participation objectives. These objectives will be established together with the social worker and will be mainly aimed at increasing and strengthening personal motivation and commitment to change towards a more active social participation that might reduce the experience of loneliness.
Motivational interviewing is a promising approach for social workers to empower older adults to participate in their communities and combating loneliness experiences. Adopting motivational interviewing can help unify international efforts combating against loneliness and provide consistency for social work practice with older adults.