Long-term care for people with dementia in social work and pracitce

Basic Info


The rapid aging of the population and the simultaneous decrease in the percentage of the young population in modern industrial societies have radically affected the systems that until recently have been relatively stable. The increase in life expectancy involves various risks which are characteristic of older, among which is a marked increase in dementia. It is estimated that in  Slovenia, due to the rapid ageing of the population, the number of people with dementia will increase for 60 % until 2035; the projections on the global scale are similar – from 47 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2050. Although dementia is a disease, its consequences are above all social.

Slovenia, compared to other countries, lags far behind the research in the area of social dimensions of dementia. It also does not have any uniform research that would be conducted in the area of long-term care. Recognising the experiences of people with dementia is of utmost relevance for social work, since it provides us with an insight into their needs and the adequacy of the existing forms of help in terms of responses to their needs. Through this approach, people working in social work strive to find new forms of help to enable people with dementia to live independently within their community. It is necessary to find ways of including people with dementia as active co-creators of help in the helping process. The care that is tailored according to people and based on their needs is also the central guideline of long-term care of people with dementia and directly associated with the theory and practice of social work.

The research project stems from two research themes – dementia and long-term care with social work being the link between – discipline and science striving to establish social justice and prevent social exclusion and marginalisation of individuals, groups and communities. Namely, both research themes are associated with marginalisation. People with dementia feel marginalised in multiple ways as patients, old people and users of long-term care.

The content and the programme of the project shall be designed in a way as to enable the research group to organise its work in finding answers to research questions by using a combination of qualitative and quantitative research. The method we shall use in the project is called Rapid assessment of needs and services that has been developed in Slovenia at the Faculty of Social Work.

We shall verify three research questions:

1. What is the typology of long-term care of people with dementia in Slovenia?

2. Which responses to the needs of people with dementia need to be established anew in long-term care for people with dementia?

3. What is the role of social work in designing the methods of help for people with dementia in the system of long-term care?

By using the method of rapid assessment of needs and services we shall find out the level and the nature of needs of people with dementia and the current response available. We shall stem from the typology of community care (institutional and social care provided in old people’s home) for old residents in Slovenia, established on the basis of the basic project Hlebec, Mali and Filipovič Hrast (2014a). We assume that the existing response is not adequate in terms of the needs of people with dementia, therefore we shall analyse the data (collected with the HOPS method, anthropological and sociological research and studying literature), find out which changes in terms of organising care (sectorial distribution, the offer of services, means) and ways of providing care (services, work methods, the role of users) we need to establish for a long, sustained system of long-term care for people with dementia. We shall verify how the methods of social work, more specifically, the method of personal planning and providing services as a central method of social work and long-term care may provide an active role of people with dementia in the helping processes.