self-neglect, Social workers, self-neglecting clients, assessment
Self-Neglect accounts for 18-20% of all cases reported to specialist Social Workers (SWs) Elder Abuse Services (EAS) in Ireland. In addition, 4.6% of elder abuse cases have an element of self-neglect. The studies in this presentation explored and described self-neglect from the perspective of specialist SW (n=7) and older adults confirmed as self-neglecting (n=8) as identified by specialist SWs.
Exploratory descriptive research design was used. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of older self-neglecting adults (n=8) and specialist SWs (n=7). Thematic content analysis used a nine stage framework. Home environments of older participants were also observed and described.
Four major themes emerged from specialist SWs perspective: self-neglect as an entity, assessment, interventions and ethical challenges. Five themes emerged from older participant: early life experiences & lifestyle, disconnectivity, vulnerability, frugality and service refusal. The observed home environments of older participants were diverse.
These studies portray the complexity of issues in relation to self-neglect from the perspective of specialist SWs and older self-neglecting adults. Powerlessness was a concept clearly articulated by the specialist SWs in balancing ethical issues and complexity of cases in managing care of self-neglecting clients. The vulnerability and diversity of participant older adultís life experiences raise serious public health concerns for specialist SWs yet some participant older adults were content and refused services.