Robin P. Bonifas, Ph.D., M.S.W., is Associate Professor and Associate Director for Curriculum & Instruction at the Arizona State University School of Social Work. Dr. Bonifas earned her doctorate from the University of Washington in Seattle and has more than 15 years of experience working with older adults and their families in both long-term care and inpatient psychiatric settings. Her research focuses on enhancing psychosocial care for persons with chronic illness and disability, especially those with comorbid mental health conditions and those requiring long-term care. She also evaluates curricular interventions designed to prepare students for effective practice with older adults. Her current projects examine elder social justice issues, such as resident-to-resident aggressive behaviors in nursing homes, bullying among older adults, and other challenges to social relationships in senior care environments. In addition, she is examining the impact of interprofessional education on students’ competencies for collaborative healthcare practice.
After completing her master’s degree in social work, Dr. Bonifas served as the director of social services in three different skilled nursing facilities over the course of 13 years. She appreciated interacting with individuals in nursing homes so much that she began working on her doctoral degree in 2001 in order eventually to prepare other social workers for practice in this area and to conduct research to advance the field of gerontological social work. The John A. Hartford Foundation funded her doctoral research, which focused on examining factors associated with quality psychosocial care in skilled nursing facilities. Since completing her Ph.D. in 2007, Dr. Bonifas has been working within an academic setting and has continued with research based in skilled nursing as well as the study of social relationship challenges in assisted living.
To date, Dr. Bonifas has given more than 25 presentations across the United States on bullying among older adults, helping senior care providers understand what it is and why it may occur, how it impacts older adults, and what strategies can be used to minimize its occurrence. Her research on resident-to-resident aggression in nursing homes has been published in Health and Social Work and the Journal of the American Medical Director’ Association.
Dr. Bonifas was named the John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar in Geriatric Social Work in 2011. She serves as the Vice President of the Association of Gerontology Education in Social Work and as a consulting editor for Health and Social Work and the Journal of Gerontological Social Work. She is also the treasurer for the Arizona chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.