Journal Article

For the Sake of their Health: Older Service Users’ Requirements for Social Care to Facilitate Access to Social Networks Following Hospital Discharge

Eileen McLeod, Paul Bywaters, Denise Tanner and Maureen Hirsch

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 1, pages 73-90
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online November 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl341
For the Sake of their Health: Older Service Users’ Requirements for Social Care to Facilitate Access to Social Networks Following Hospital Discharge

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Facilitating older service users’ requirements for access to or re-engagement in social networks following hospital discharge is recognized in social care analysis and policy as critically important. This is because of the associated benefits for restoring physical health and psychological well-being. However, it tends to be a neglected dimension of current social care/intermediate care. Our paper draws on a qualitative study of voluntary sector hospital aftercare social rehabilitation projects in five UK localities, which focused on addressing this issue. Through examining older service users’ feedback and experience, our study confirms the health benefits of social care facilitating access to social networks at this crucial juncture. By providing sensitive interpersonal interaction, advocacy and ‘educational’ assistance, social care workers supported older service users’ re-engagement in a variety of networks. These included friendship, recreational and family groups, health care treatment programmes and locality based contacts and organizations. As a result, material, interpersonal and health care resources were accessed, which contributed to restoring and sustaining physical health and psychological well-being. The process of such social care also emerged as critical. This included ensuring that objectives reflected service users’ priorities; integrating ‘low-level’ home care; offering befriending; and challenging the pre-set time frame of intermediate care.

Keywords: hospital discharge; older service users; social networks; intermediate care

Journal Article.  7373 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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