Journey’s end? From residual service to newer forms of pathology, risk aversion and abandonment in social work with older people
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractSummary: This article details how social work with older people is disappearing whilst also being supplanted by seemingly more cost-effective forms of intervention in the UK. This has included the use of higher numbers of unqualified staff in roles once completed by qualified social workers, alongside highly rationed interventions that utilise fewer staff or associate welfare professionals, including those drawn from health care. Findings: Such reforms represent important changes embedded within neo-liberal inspired professional discursive practices. These include the biomedicalization of ageing and associate narrow gaze interpretations of social care needs that privilege pathology and risk. For social work there has also occurred an ongoing retreat from older adults within communities: from care managed and personalised support to the extension of ‘risk averse’ safeguarding and promotion of personal autonomy and informal care. Rather than represent a break with the past such socially constructed and politically motivated reforms remain part of longer held societal and ideological trends. Importantly these include assumptions that older users remain a peripheral concern in contrast to other social groups or needs Applications: The article concludes that the social work profession needs to articulate its distinct role with regard its capability to provide substantive support to an ageing population alongside it’s capacity to look beyond a narrow and unsustainable focus on rationing or the endorsement of self-support, treating illness and controlling risk.
CitationCarey, M. (2016). Journey’s end? From residual service to newer forms of pathology, risk aversion and abandonment in social work with older people. Journal of Social Work 16 (3): 344-361.
JournalJournal of Social Work
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