Facilitating older service users’ requirements for access to or re-engagement in social networks following hospital discharge is recognized in social care analysis and policy as critically important. This is because of the associated benefits for restoring physical health and psychological well-being. However, it tends to be a neglected dimension of current social care/intermediate care. Our paper draws on a qualitative study of voluntary sector hospital aftercare social rehabilitation projects in five UK localities, which focused on addressing this issue. Through examining older service users’ feedback and experience, our study confirms the health benefits of social care facilitating access to social networks at this crucial juncture. By providing sensitive interpersonal interaction, advocacy and ‘educational’ assistance, social care workers supported older service users’ re-engagement in a variety of networks. These included friendship, recreational and family groups, health care treatment programmes and locality based contacts and organizations. As a result, material, interpersonal and health care resources were accessed, which contributed to restoring and sustaining physical health and psychological well-being. The process of such social care also emerged as critical. This included ensuring that objectives reflected service users’ priorities; integrating ‘low-level’ home care; offering befriending; and challenging the pre-set time frame of intermediate care.
Bibliographical noteThe full text is not available from the repository.
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version: McLeod, E. , Bywaters, P. , Tanner, D. and Hirsch, M. (2008) For the sake of their health: older service users’ requirements for social care to facilitate access to social networks following hospital discharge. British Journal of Social Work, volume 38 (1): 73-90 is available online at:http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcl341
- hospital discharge
- older service users
- social networks
- intermediate care