The concept of prevention is defined and the role of social policy as a primary prevention mechanism is explored. Data from a community sample of 60 elderly and their families who applied for institutional placement was gathered, as well as data from-the 60 social workers who treated these elderly. The impact of community care and the well being and surroundings of the elderly was investigated in order to determine the significant predictors of preventing long term care institutionalization. Recommendations are made for new social policies based on the philosophy of prevention. which are comprehensive, flexible, responsive and informed by the elderly themselves.