Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Evaluation of results of care arrangement study under consideration of a comparative perspective on the impact of welfare states on marginalization

The result (Del 17) discusses the conceptual approach and the findings of the investigation into “Care arrangements patterns and negotiation processes (WP 5)”.

The deliverable gives information on care arrangement patterns, their prerequisites and consequences as well as patterns of social integration, support of mobility and the psychological situation of care-dependent elderly in five Western European countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Northern-Ireland).

On a theoretical basis it draws on the concept of social exclusion, which has been developed in international comparative welfare state research. The basic characteristics of the concept of social exclusion are laid out and combined with findings of the research areas socio-gerontology and elderly care. Processes of social exclusion are strongly related to different types of inequality putting women, members of the lower classes and migrants at a disadvantage.

As preconditions for the establishment of successful action strategies against marginalization the accessibility of adequate care resources, the integration into social- and family networks and on a psychological level, feelings of belonging are defined. Based on this approach the main research questions concern care arrangements and their consequences for the care-dependent elderly and informal carers, patterns of social integration, retention of mobility as a precondition for social integration and the psychological situation of the elderly.

An investigation into care arrangement patterns and the social situation of care dependent elderly in five European countries - Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom (Northern-Ireland) - forms the basis of the empirical findings. Elderly care approaches of the participating countries differ with regard to the underlying values, the availability, affordability and accessibility of services and the regulations of freedom of choice between cash payments and services.

The universal approach of elderly care embedded within the idea of a societal responsibility for care provision in Northern-Ireland shows the most favourable situation for the elderly and their informal carers as a whole and for certain risk groups, e.g. people living alone or with low income. The continental European approach characterized by a responsibility assigned to the family and the society simultaneously in Austria, Belgium and Germany creates country-specific obstacles and risk groups.

The family-oriented approach in Italy does not provide an adequate care provision to the elderly without sufficient family support. The elderly living on their own with limited family support complain about unmet needs and report often about feelings of loneliness. The report provides a broad use potential within research and social policy development. In particular, within the research areas international comparative welfare state research on social exclusion or (elderly) social care and within socio-gerontological research the new conceptual approach and the empirical findings offer opportunities for further development in theoretical and empirical work.

The empirical findings and their relation to the concept of social exclusion can be used as a knowledge base for the development of care- and social policies as well as an adaptation of regulations and professional care services to the needs of different user groups (at risk of marginalization). Up to now the deliverable has already been used as a basis for publications (two book chapters forthcoming, and a planned journal article) and as basis for a planned seminar with social politicians at the ministry of the Federal State of Berlin. In October 2005 the empirical findings have been presented and discussed at the international conference “Care for the elderly and social integration: A European comparison” at the Social Science Research Center (WZB) in Berlin.

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