The social relationship in nursing homes
Social Work Instituto Superior de Serviço Social do Porto Matosinhos, Portugal
In the qualitative study presented we want to show the way life concerning the experience inside a nursing home and the consequences of that process at social relationship level. The transition into nursing home demands a rupture with the previous life and ties. It becomes important to think and reflect about his inner constructed world through his social experience and his individual and subjective representations, specially when the context of these relationship changes and it's possible to doubt the individual existence as an individuality. We believe, therefore, that the inner conscience will also depend on the relationships established throughout several integration stages in the nursing home.
The used methodology was focused on an intensive study, bringing together various information-gathering techniques: observer-participant, formal and informal interview, direct and methodical observation.
The main principal variable analyse was the social climate of the old-age equipment and the elderly relationships network. This social climate is related with relationships among residents and staff and relationships between the residents. We are specially interested in point out some obstacles that have a negative interference inside the social climate.
As the elderly do not represent a socially homogenous group, we can underline the social dissimilarities that marked the life path and their material, cultural and relationship resources; different reasons associated to the entrance in nursing home; difficulty in sharing the same private space; the heterogeneity in terms of health status. These reasons, as well as the challenge regarding the face of death, favours the superficial ties and the withdrawal from the world.
Concerning relationship among elderly and staff, they are based on a certain distance between elderly world and staff world. These interact with the residents only in brief moments during the day. The remaining time is dedicated to instrumental tasks. It would be important to consider some factors of professional motivation, such as adjusted wages, investment in training and continuous reflection about the work.
Representations mostly devalued around aging, age distances, culture differences and a relationship which does not preserve the elder identity contribute to significant differences of powers and to "colonial" and fatherly relationship.