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  • Social Service Worker - Gerontology

    Social Service Worker - Gerontology

Program Code:SSWG
Duration:4 Semesters (2 Years)
Start Dates:Fall,
Start dates are subject to change
Credential Awarded:Ontario College Diploma

Program Description

The Social Service Worker – Gerontology program integrates the knowledge base, professional values, and skill–sets of social service work with a specific concentration on the needs, challenges, and concerns of Canada’s aging population. The program focuses on a holistic and strength–based approach to help aging clients maintain a good quality of life. As a student, you will have the opportunity to develop skills such as program planning, individual and group modes of facilitation, interventions with clients, their families and significant others, case management, interpersonal communication, and skills related to working with bereavement and grief. You will also benefit from a very substantial fieldwork placement component which starts in the second semester and runs through the third and fourth semesters.

Advanced standing and prior learning assessment opportunities are also available. An official transcript and course outlines, for the courses that students wish to present for consideration for advanced standing, must accompany such requests. Only courses from post–secondary institutions, where the student has achieved at least a final mark of 60%, will be considered for advanced standing.

Your studies in the Social Service Worker – Gerontology program include opportunities to engage in personal change and growth, to work cohesively as a member of a team, to integrate and apply professional ethics, to meet deadlines, manage personal issues that might arise, and successfully achieve the learning outcomes of the various courses. The College offers a variety of supports to assist you in this self–directed learning environment where you are ultimately responsible for your personal success. Be prepared to spend 20 or more hours each week working on assignments, etc.

Graduates tell us important factors for success in SSWG are: study skills; time management; class attendance and participation; taking personal responsibility for the outcomes of one’s actions; minimizing the number of hours that might be occupied by part– time employment; and the ability to deal constructively with the stresses of a busy life.

Program Learning Outcomes:

This Seneca College program meets the system-wide standards as set by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

As a graduate, you will be prepared to reliably demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify needs, strengths and resources of older adults to assist them in setting goals that promote their optimal functioning, well being, and quality of life.
  • Plan, implement and evaluate services and programs in response to identified needs and goals of older adults.
  • Function effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary and interagency team, in the development and provision of relevant services and programs for older adults.
  • Record information accurately and communicate effectively in oral, written and electronic formats, in adherence to privacy, and freedom of information legislation.
  • Establish and maintain helping relationships which adhere to professional, legal and ethical standards aligned to social service work.
  • Recognize diverse needs and experiences of individuals, groups, families, and communities, to promote accessible and responsive programs and services.
  • Develop strategies and plans that lead to the promotion of self care, improved job performance, and enhanced work relationships.
  • Work in communities to advocate for change strategies that promote social and economic justice and challenge patterns of oppression and discrimination.

Essential Employability Skills:

Graduates of this program are also expected to demonstrate the essential employability skills learning outcomes as outlined on the Ministry of Training, College and Universities website.

Admission Requirements

Program Eligibility:

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent with:
    • Grade 12 English: ENG4(C) or ENG4(U)
  • OR Mature Student Status (age 19 or older) with the above prerequisite course(s), their equivalent(s), or appropriate Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) Certificate program credits (see Academic Upgrading).


  • A current Police Reference check is REQUIRED for entry into the field practice component of this program.
  • A flu shot and TB test are generally required for placement at long term care facilities.

The Importance of Learning Skills:

Student success in college requires well developed learning skills (such as being able to work independently, participate in a team, be well-organized, develop good work habits, and show initiative). These skills are as important as prior academic achievement. While it is expected that applicants would have developed these skills through previous education and life experiences, Seneca offers support to assist students with further development of these important skills. Seminars, workshops and tutoring are available at Seneca's Learning Centres.


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Your Career

Demand for skilled and knowledgeable professionals to work in a helping capacity with seniors is increasing as Canada’s population ages. The Social Service Worker – Gerontology Diploma prepares graduates to provide gerontological services and products to seniors with a wide range of physical, psychological, social and financial challenges. After four semesters, you may find fulfilling employment opportunities with agency providers of seniors’ services such as government agencies, not– for–profit agencies, for–profit agencies, and private individuals. You may also find a wide range of employment opportunities in many different levels, including co–ordination of home support services (e.g., meals on wheels, transportation, friendly visiting, congregate dining, homemaker services, and telephone reassurance); work in programs for people with dementia; activation co–ordination; supportive housing co–ordination; co–ordination of volunteer programs. Some graduates have started their own businesses. Advocating for, and empowering seniors to achieve their goals is an important aspect of all these employment possibilities. Graduates of the SSWG program are eligible for registration with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.

Provincial Registration

In order to practice in Ontario as a "Social Service Worker" or a "Registered Social Service Worker", graduates must apply for registration in the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW). Graduates of the SSWG program will meet the education requirement for registration. For more information, please visit

Field Work

Field work is a valuable opportunity to gain work experience while meeting the learning outcomes of the SSWG program. You will work in a professional capacity, with specified job responsibilities, record keeping evaluations, time management requirements, contracted hours of work, expectations of teamwork, and appropriate interpersonal interaction. You will be evaluated on the basis of an approved three–part learning contract as agreed by you, the approved fieldwork agency, and the Seneca SSWG program. This work calls for individuals who are self–aware, reliable, sensitive and facilitative, and mature enough to focus on the needs and interests of others.

Fieldwork days are typically:

  • The equivalent of two full days per week in semesters two, three and four;
  • Full week block placements as scheduled throughout the program duration.

Students typically have one placement at a residential setting and one placement at a community agency which provides services to seniors.

A Seneca professor will assist you in the selection and approval of a fieldwork placement, though the final contract will be your responsibility. This experience will help you develop job–search skills while in the supportive environment of the program. All fieldwork placements must be approved by the College.

Diploma to Degree... and Beyond

Through transfer agreements and institution partnerships, graduates of this Seneca College program may be eligible for credit at the following post-secondary institution(s):


University/CollegeDegrees Available
Ryerson University• Bachelor of Social Work (Full-Time or Part-Time Advanced Standing)
Seneca College• Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation
Tyndale University College• Bachelor of Arts (Human Services, Early Childhood Education, Human Services-Social Service Worker) or Bachelor of Religious Education (Degree Completion or Modular)
York University• Bachelor of Social Work


University/CollegeDegrees Available
Brock University• Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Psychology degree or a 4-year with Major Psychology degree, or a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Women’s Studies degree
Lakehead University• Honours Bachelor of Social Work
Nipissing University• Bachelor of Arts
Wilfrid Laurier University - Brantford Campus• Honours Bachelor of Arts
• Honours Bachelor of Social Work
University of Windsor• BA Honours in Disability Studies


University/CollegeDegrees Available
Griffith University• Bachelor of Human Services
• Bachelor of Social Work

Important Academic Dates

Please take a few moments to view Important Academic Dates for your relevant semester.


Semester 1 Course Name Hrs/Wk
EAC150 College English 3
GWL137 Introduction to Aging 3
GWL147 Gerontology Field Work Seminar 3
SLL307 Sociology: A Practical Approach 3
SSW101 Interpersonal Communications 3
SSW102 Diversity: Awareness and Practice 3
Semester 2 Course Name Hrs/Wk
GWL208 Gerontological Group and Activation Techniques 3
GWL212 Interviewing and Assessing Older Adults 3
GWL219 The Retirement Home Industry - Overview and Skills 3
GWL247 Integrative Field Work Seminar 2
GWL257 Gerontology Field Work 14
GWL261 Therapeutic Program Planning 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3
Semester 3 Course Name Hrs/Wk
GWL318 Therapeutic Interventions for Dementia 3
GWL347 Integrative Field Work Seminar 2
GWL357 Gerontology Field Work 14
GWL377 Volunteer Program Management 3
SSW311 Case Co-ordination and Advocacy Strategies 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3
Semester 4 Course Name Hrs/Wk
GWL407 Death, Dying, Grief and Bereavement 2
GWL447 Integrative Field Work Seminar 3
GWL457 Field Practice 14
SSW402 Community Practice 3
XXXXXX General Education Option 3

Contact Us

Admissions Advisors:
Domestic Admissions Advisor: Cathy Dawson
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55026
International Admissions Advisor: Valentyna Gorodovych
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 22432
Registration & Records Advisor:
  Cathy Dawson
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55026
Program Contacts:
Program Coordinator: Michele Green
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55448
Program Chair: Biljana Bruce
Telephone: (416) 491-5050 Ext. 55002
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"Attending Seneca College in the Social Service Worker Gerontology Program was unequivocally the best thing I've ever done for myself! I'm pretty certain I've learned as much about myself as I did about social service work in gerontology. I know with confidence, I now have the skills and knowledge to be successful and make a difference, thanks to the outstanding faculty."

Cindy Doerksen
2012 Graduate

"This program has provided me with knowledge and foundation which will aid me in developing my career, whether it is case management, activation, group home settings, fundraising, or advocacy. It was a challenging program, which prepared me for employment. The program strengthened the skills and traits that I already possessed and brought others to the surface. This program has made me a better and stronger person and, hence, a good Social Service Worker."

Lillian Dubajic
2011 Graduate

"As a mature student, I wanted to make the right choice when changing careers. So, I carefully researched the Social Service Worker – Gerontology program at Seneca College before enrolling in it. The program co–ordinator was encouraging and responsive. Through this program I received professional classroom instruction and two field placements. The first– year field placement was in a long–term care facility where I learned that I had a particular interest and ability to work with residents who have dementia. As a result of this placement, I obtained a job in a long–term care facility last summer. My second–year field placement provided me with experience running adult day programs. In addition, I gained knowledge about the provision of community outreach services to Seniors. After these experiences, I feel prepared to start a full–time career in this field. In the last semester of the SSWG program, I found that the 'Death, Dying and Bereavement' course was of particular interest to me. As a result, I am currently starting a volunteer position at a hospice to build on the knowledge that I gained through that course."

Tim French
2011 Graduate

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