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Some aspects of empowerment of elderly nursing home residents

Review

There is a common perception that in residential care facilities the po­wer and responsibility for care process related decisions lie with the professionals, while the older person is seen as the passive recipient of a service who cannot or does not want to participate in this process. In order to assure wellbeing and a higher quality of care adapted to the needs of elderly residential care residents it is important to provide them with opportunities to gain more power to control decisions related to the care process.

The concept of “empowerment” becomes very important when chan­ging traditional resident and staff relationships attributed to residential care facilities. Empowerment of nursing home residents and staff is a two-sided process – one side must be willing to share some power and responsibility; the other side must be ready and willing to accept it. Empowerment of nursing home residents often results in provision of higher quality care services that are better suited to the needs of the resi­dents and encourages their sense of control of their lives. Empowerment of nursing home staff creates opportunities to provide higher quality care services and also causes increased job satisfaction.

As social work, according to the internationally accepted definition, is a human rights profession, its practitioners must be able to understand peculiarities of their working environment that affect both their practice and the quality of life of their clients. Analysis of the literature revealed that studies on peculiarities of empowerment of older people are quite rare, hence the analysis of empowerment factors presented in this study may serve as a basis for designing new social work methods that would help to increase both social worker’s job satisfaction and effectiveness and the quality of life of elderly nursing home residents. The analysis of power relationships in a residential care setting is based on the ideas of Ryan and Deci (2000) self-determination) theory.

Keywords: elderly; nursing homes; nursing home staff; empowerment.

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