Community-dwelling older adults and their informal carers call for more attention to psychosocial needs: Interview study on unmet care needs in three European countries

Lina Van Aerschot, Selma Kadi, Ricardo Rodrigues, Maša Filipovič Hrast, Valentina Hlebec, Mari Aaltonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Unmet care needs are usually defined in terms of receiving sufficient help in instrumental activities and activities of daily living. Research on unmet needs is mostly based on quantitative data. Older persons’ and informal carers’ views and experiences have received less attention. Methods: In this paper, we rely on a definition of unmet needs which includes both unmet needs due to insufficient care and those situations where informal carers experience undue strain. Using theory-driven content analysis, we examine community-dwelling older adults’ and their informal carers’ experiences of unmet needs: what kind of unmet needs they have, why and in which ways these needs are left unmet and what would they want to do to improve the situation. The data consists of interviews gathered in Austria, Finland and Slovenia. Results: Results of the analysis reveal that unmet needs are largely psychosocial in nature. The predominating task-oriented care systems often do not consider these as care needs. Using methods of qualitative content analysis, we conclude that care users’ unmet psychosocial needs are related to lacking a personal relationship with care workers; means to maintain or develop social contacts and pursue activities and interests; and adequate home care services or respite care. Excessive responsibilities are put on informal carers as they top up and fill in the insufficient care. Conclusions: This study contributes to a broader understanding of unmet care needs: the relational aspects of care and the universal nature of psychosocial care needs should be addressed in care services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104672
Number of pages8
JournalARCHIVES OF GERONTOLOGY AND GERIATRICS
Volume101
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Informal care
  • Psychosocial needs
  • Unmet needs

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Ageing
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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