NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Helen Padula (1911-1989)
Helen Padula was a frequent speaker and prolific writer on the subjects of social rehabilitation and aftercare. As Chief of Social Services at Spring Grove Hospital Center in Maryland beginning in 1948, Padula developed a unique series of social rehabilitation programs for hospitalized mental patients. She gave special attention to the aspects of institutional living that "crippled" patients and promoted chronicity. She also expanded the foster care program initiated by Henrietta DeWitt.
In the 1960's, Padula was a primary investigator in a study supported by the National Institute of Mental Health in which she visited 32 mental hospitals to evaluate different methods of treatment and rehabilitation. The results of this study were published in 1968 by the Joint Information Service of the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association for Mental Health in Approaches to the Care of Long-Term Patients.
From 1968 to 1975 she was the coordinator of services to the aged in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she continued her pioneering work through the creation of a multidisciplined geriatric evaluation service and developed day- care resources to provide alternatives to institutionalization. She participated in the development of enabling legislation that made the evaluation program mandatory in each of the 18 county health departments. Through her consultation with the Veterans Administration and National Council on Aging as well as publications concerning day care of the elderly, she helped to establish this modality throughout the country.