Teaming up to traverse loneliness: a co-creative journey toward a home care work model for supporting social participation among older adults

BMC Health Serv Res. 2022 Sep 14;22(1):1159. doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08524-y.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Participatory research is particularly suitable in adressing know-do gaps in health systems. There is a disparity between what is known about the benefits of social participation and home care’s responsibility to provide conditions amenable to older adults’ social participation, and what is accomplished in home care practice. Home care workers are a large, low-power group, whose competences should be better harnessed. We carried out a participatory action research (PAR) project with the goal of generating an improved structure for identifying and alleviating loneliness. This article aims to explore the co-creative process of designing a work model that guides home care workers in supporting social participation among older care recipients.

METHODS: Multimodal data from 16 PAR workshops with 14 home care workers were described and explored through the ‘recursive PAR process’ and the ‘framework for occupational enablement for change in community practice”.

RESULTS: The PAR process is outlined through the objectives, activities, and work model, as well as enablement strategies employed throughout the PAR process; as are its opportunities, challenges and implications. The work model describes how care workers can act as discoverers of care recipients’ unmet social needs, employ intentional communication, and link to relevant professions or community services to alleviate loneliness among older home care recipients.

CONCLUSIONS: This research process included opportunities of collaborating with enthusiastic and competent home care workers, but also challenges of moving between theory and practice and maintaining active participation between workshops. The resulting work model is in step with the requirements of elderly care, is unique in its field and could comprise a first step toward a more systematic approach of assessing and addressing loneliness. The vivid delineation of the PAR process provided in this paper can aid other researchers in navigating participatory research in home care contexts.

PMID:36104816 | DOI:10.1186/s12913-022-08524-y

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