INTRODUCTION TO THEMATIC ISSUE

Jana Mali, Anamarija Kejžar

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SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES

Jana Mali

Overview and analysis of current concepts in social work with people with dementia - Pg. 129 - 146Keywords: destigmatisation, participation, emancipation, empowerment, long-term care, anti-discrimination

The article presents the research project "Long-term care of people with dementia in social work theory and practice", the first Slovene national study in the field of research on the social dimensions of dementia. The first part presents the conceptual background of social work, which is the link between social work with people with dementia and the paradigmatic changes in long-term care. The second part presents the importance of the development of long-term care for people with dementia, the third part presents the purpose and objectives of the research project, and the fourth part elaborates the conceptual background, which is the basic guiding principle of the research in the project. Particular emphasis is placed on the methodological selection of current foreign scientific articles dealing with the topic presented, which have been published in the last twenty years in English. The results of the analysis show that three conceptual orientations prevail in the field of social work with people with dementia: (1) exploration of needs, (2) destigmatisation and anti-discrimination of people with dementia, and (3) participation of people with dementia in processes of help and support. In the concluding part, the author relates the findings of the analysis to the contemporary starting points of social work with people with dementia in Slovenia.

Vito Flaker

Dementia – a reason for deinstitutionalisation - Pg. 147 - 163Keywords: total institution, subjectivity, action identity, heuristic model

Dementia is often the ultimate argument for the need of institutions. However, dementia is not a "disease" that would need an institutional care, and institutions are not an environment of decisive advantage, and the placement in an institution is not the result of a "deterioration" of the state – it is a consequence of the discontinuity of the system, the lack of intensive services in the community, the "drama of institutionalisation" accompanied by reification of human beings and encouraged by the quest for profit. Quite the contrary, institutions can be described as a "machine of oblivion", a foundation of alienation, passivation and intensification of the very difficulties that are usually attributed to the disease process. On the basis of this critique, the author sketches specific elements of deinstitutionalisation in the case of dementia and proposes a heuristic theorem for the research and action in this field. The transition to the community means transforming the modelling of dementia, providing a safe space, adequate intensity of support, a conjunction of informal care and professional interventions, enabling alternative subjectivity and new solidarity. Research and action in the field of dementia should stem from the life-world of so labelled people, and transversely address the variety of plateaus of action. It should focus on the equally transversal phenomena of supplanting the loss of subjectivity and territorial insertion, while also addressing the more fundamental issues of the bifurcation of contemplative and action identity.

Liljana Rihter

An overview of the results of the final theses of students of the Faculty of Social Work on social work with people with dementia - Pg. 165 - 183Keywords: long-term care, old people, methods of work, institutionalisation, research

A meta-analysis of students' theses from the past five years (2016–2020) on the topic of social work with people with dementia is presented. Among the themes explored, work in institutions as well as work in the family setting of people with dementia predominate; community work topics emerge to a lesser extent. Thus, the role of social work and the use of social work methods are researched somewhat more in institutions, but again, only in individual institutions. However, this topic does not appear in research on people with dementia in the home setting. Most research is qualitative and based on non-random convenience samples using interviews as the method of data collection. Often, students explore the challenges and needs of those involved in caring for people with dementia, but with less emphasis on numbers. In the future, the focus will need to be on research on community and on (social) work with people with dementia in their home environments, and the use of social work methods and other forms of work with people with dementia need to be explored in more depth.

Benjamin Penič, Sintija Munđar

Identity of people with dementia: opportunity for empowerment - Pg. 185 - 202Keywords: social work, living environment, social environment, social identity, personal identity, long-term care

Human identity is dynamic, fleeting, and changeable and is formed in social contexts. People with dementia are considered a vulnerable group with a less stable identity due to the nature of the disease, often causing their individuality to be disregarded. Systematic review of the literature shows that the living and social environments play an important role in the consolidation, maintenance, and reconstruction of the identity of people with dementia. Interactions of people with dementia with their living and social environments enable them to learn new strategies for expressing their identity, while social capital remains a valuable source of power in the process of identity expression, consolidation, or reconstruction. The narratives of people with dementia contribute to the preservation of their personal identity and enable reviving memories. The opportunity to share experiences and participate in social interactions serves as recognition of their uniqueness and provides them a sense of worth and value. People with dementia want to participate and engage in activities, as many are an essential building block of their identity. Successful completion of activities also helps maintain a positive self-image and experience their own worth.

Jana Mali, Benjamin Penič

Responses of social work to measures for containing the Covid-19 epidemic in homes for old people - Pg. 203 - 221Keywords: institutional care, long-term care, social isolation, advocacy, anti-covid measures, ethical dilemmas

The first part of the article shows how the covid-19 epidemic revived ideas about the development of social work with old people. More frequent violations of human rights, increasing discrimination of old people, and searching for answers to the increasingly severe hardships of the social isolation of the old people – these are topics that call for the establishment of specialization for social work with old people. The development of specialized knowledge also benefits the development of social work in homes for old people. Some key practices for the development of new areas of social work in homes are shown. In the central part of the paper, research with social workers in Slovenian homes is described and the results of the epidemic's impact on social work are presented. The article presents the key challenges for social work, how social work maintains its role at organizing institutional care and what are the most pressing ethical dilemmas of social work. Both the shortcomings and advantages of social work are shown in order to recognize the existing risks for social work as an opportunity for further development of the profession.

Anže Štancar

Impact of Covid-19 epidemic on the lives of residents of homes for old people - Pg. 223 - 235Keywords: institucionalisation, old people, social work, social isolation, mental health

The year 2020 was marked by the Covid-19 epidemic, which had the greatest impact on socially vulnerable groups, especially old people. Based on qualitative research, the article explains the impact of measures to curb the Covid-19 epidemic on the lives of old people in the Ajdovščina Home for the Old People. During this period, social work found itself in a difficult situation and was forced to respond. In institutions for old people, it found itself in an unenviable position, as it had to adapt very quickly to new challenges - to maintain contact in a time that severely limited physical contact, and to enable communication between residents and their loved ones. The article connects homes for old people with the concept of a total institution and shows how social work in the home for old people coped with challenges during the Covid-19 epidemic. The impact of epidemiological measures and social isolation on people's mental health and everyday life is shown. The fundamental tasks of social workers in crisis situations are listed.

PROFESSIONAL ARTICLES

Anamarija Kejžar

Use of stimulating activities in social work with people with dementia - Pg. 237 - 247Keywords: non-pharmacological activities, personal plan of care, creative methods, antipsychotics

With growing number of cases of dementia, social work with people with dementia faces new challenges in maintaining dignity in the lives of people with dementia and their families. The article discusses the importance of continuous implementation of various stimulating activities for people with dementia in homes for older people (which are also suitable for implementation in home environment), and their well-being, maintenance of self-worth and self-esteem. Stimulating activities are non-pharmacological forms of care and include various areas: daily tasks (in household and garden), physical exercise, cognitive exercises, as well as complementary activities such as: music and visual arts activities, playing with babies, incorporating modern information technologies, aromatherapy. Stimulating activities can be provided by social workers, occupational therapists and other professionals. Their goal is to maintain cognitive abilities, slow the progression of dementia, and promote well-being of people with dementia. In stimulating activities, the person with dementia, together with a professional, discovers activities that they can manage and enjoy. This leads to reduction in the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Ivona Balent, Barbara Gungl, Lara Horvat

Old people living alone: consequences and prevention - Pg. 249 - 256Keywords: social intervention, old age, social isolation, social support, mental health, independent living

Important findings in the field of solitary life in old age and the problem of loneliness are presented. Difficulties experienced by old people due to loneliness should not be neglected and their impact on their physical and mental health and general wellbeing needs to be addressed. Therefore some interventions are described that proved to be effective in preventing negative consequences of loneliness among the elderly. As the social network is very important for the health of the old, the most successful interventions are those based on strengthening the social support of old people (for example cooperation within associations, providing support to others, multigenerational households).

BOOK REVIEW

Liljana Rihter

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IN MEMORIAM

Vito Flaker

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INTRODUCTION TO THEMATIC ISSUE

Mojca Urek, Ana M. Sobočan, Anže Jurček

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SCIENTIFIC ARTICLES

Mojca Urek, Charlotte Buitenkamp, Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Agnes Higgins, Brian Keogh, Sarah Lewis-Brooke, Alfonso Pezzella, Irma Rabelink, Nina van der Vaart, Anže Jurček

»Auntie, with whom are you lesbian?«: With education against the invisibility of LGBT+ old people in social and health care - Pg. 7 - 26Keywords: inclusive care, stigmatisation, life stories, intersectionality, ageism, World Café

The specific characteristics of life course and past experiences of LGBT+ old people require knowledge and awareness on the part of carers. In this paper, an international perspective to shed light on key issues in the field of inclusive care for LGBT+ older people is used, with a particular focus on the Slovenian context, drawing extensively on the findings of the European project “Being me” (2018–2020). In the project, we aimed to explore best practice in the area of education and to develop online learning materials and tools for social and health care workers. Among the principles and approaches that guided our research, the focus was put on intersectionality, resilience, strengths perspective, life stories, and collaboration with LGBT+ old people in all phases of the project.

Anže Jurček, Mojca Urek, Ana M. Sobočan

Lives of LGBTQ+ people over 50 at the time of the Covid-19 epidemic - Pg. 27 - 40Keywords: personal experience, social network, accessibility of services, safe spaces, identity

The Covid-19 epidemic and associated changes in everyday life have exacerbated existing inequalities between people, particularly in the case of many invisible, vulnerable, and marginalised groups, and exposed systemic weaknesses in addressing their needs. The study “The needs of LGBTQ+ people over 50 during the Covid-19 epidemic” explored the impact of emergencies on the daily lives of LGBTQ+ people. In the interviews, interviewees highlighted the hardships of those LGBTQ+ people who have a small social network and/or are not in a partnership, as well as limited access to shared events and safe spaces where people can live according to their identity. Interviewees had both positive and negative experiences with health and other services and emphasised the importance of having access to services and the need for aware and trained providers who are able to accommodate to the unique circumstances of LGBTQ+ people. The findings highlight the importance of researching the experiences and life trajectories of people in times of emergencies in order to better respond to identified needs.

Trish Hafford-Letchfield, Sue Westwood, Michael Toze

Navigating LGBT+ ageing inequalities during challenging times: A case study of UK LGBT+ community organisations - Pg. 41 - 59Keywords: advocacy, COVID-19, mandatory isolation, human rights

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on older people’s lives on a global scale but for some marginalised communities have seen a marked exacerbation of health and other inequalities. Research has highlighted the impact of the pandemic on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) people’s lives, but less has been documented about the experiences of LGBT+ older communities and how their specific needs have been mediated. Community-based advocacy organisations are central to promoting LGBT+ human rights in the UK through its social movements, and this paper explores their role and significance during a distinct period of the UK mandatory isolation. Drawing on a case study approach based on qualitative interviews with six key LGBT+ community organisations in the UK, we captured their insights into how they navigated support for older people when faced with limited resources and the challenges posed by mandatory physical and social distancing. We position these events in current discourse about structural and health inequalities for LGBT+ ageing in the UK.

Simon Maljevac, Roman Kuhar, Alenka Švab

Silent generation: older gays and lesbians - Pg. 61 - 76Keywords: gay, lesbian, LGBT, aging population, coming out, identity

Older gays and lesbians are one of the most invisible social groups as they experience “double invisibility”: in Western societies that celebrate youth, they are invisible as older and as older homosexuals. Existing research shows a different structure of social networks of older gays and lesbians compared to older heterosexuals, it points to fears of discrimination in care activities and feelings of exclusion from the LGBT community, which, like society at large, is defined by youth. This exploratory study for Slovenia identifies similar trends, with the key problem being the tension between an individual's stigmatized homosexual identity, which the elderly still mostly hide, and the LGBT community, which is not inclusive for older gays and lesbians. The purpose of the research was to identify key characteristics of everyday life of older gays and lesbians in the period before the existence of activism in Slovenia and the characteristics of the current position of older gays and lesbians in the LGBTIQ + community and society at large.

PROFESSIONAL ARTICLE

Existing and potential practices in the field of LGBTI older adults in Slovenia - Pg. 77 - 82Keywords: homes for the elderly, Saturday saloons, training, Legebitra

In the paper, rare existing practices in the field of LGBTI older adults in Slovenia are presented. More specifically, the author's experience gained while working for Association Cultural, Informational and Counseling Center Legebitra during 2017–2018 are presented. Guidelines for the future education of stakeholders and care providers for the older adults regarding awareness of LGBTI-older adults are stated, as well as guidelines for Slovenian organizations working with LGBTI older adults.

REPORTS

Tjaša Rupar, Mitja Blažič

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Barbara Purkart

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REVIEWS

Anže Jurček

- - Pg. 105 - 107

Mihael Nedeljko

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Anamarija Kejžar

- - Pg. 113 - 115

Tanja Buda

- - Pg. 117 - 120

INDEX

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