Negotiating needs Processing older persons as home care recipients in gerontological social work practices
Abstract: The study concerns the needs assessment processes that older persons undergo to gain access to home care. The participation of older persons, their relatives and municipal care managers was studied from a communicative perspective. The assessment meetings functions as formal problem-solving events. The older persons´ accounts are negotiated discursively in interaction. Various storylines are used by the older persons and their relatives whether they view home care as an intrusion, as a complement or as a right. In case of divergent opinions the older person has the final say as prescribed by the Swedish social service act. One conclusion is that the role of relatives is not defined and a family perspective is not present. In the study the institutional structure of the assessment process was also analyzed. Older persons are processed into clients; their needs are fitted within the framework of documentation and institutional categories. In the transfer of talk to text all the particulars are not reflected and two types of documentation was identified; a fact-oriented objective language or an event-oriented personal language. Care management models and a managerialist thinking has influenced the assessment process by bureaucratisation of older people trough people processing, which is in contradiction to the individual-centric perspective prescribed by the law. The introduction of care management models in gerontological social work has lead to an embedded contradiction and constitutes a welfare political dilemma. Improved communicative methods are needed in order to achieve a holistic assessment situation.
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