User involvement in long-term care. Towards a relational care-ethics approach

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Abstract

Background

User involvement in long-term care has become official policy in many countries. Procedural and managerial approaches to user involvement have numerous shortcomings in long-term care. What is needed is a different approach that is beneficial and tuned to the needs of clients and professionals.

Aim

This article presents a care-ethics approach to involvement. We illustrate this approach and its practical implementation by examining a case example of user involvement in long-term elderly care.

Methodology

This case example is based on an action research project in a residential care home in the Netherlands. Seven female clients participated in the process, as well as diverse groups of professionals from this residential care home.

Results

The clients were concerned about meals, and collectively they became empowered and came up with ideas for improving meals. Professionals also shared the clients' experiences with meals, first in homogeneous groups and then in heterogeneous meetings with the client group. This process led to the development of partnership relations between clients and professionals.

Conclusion

Our findings suggest that a care-ethics approach to user involvement is a means to increase resident empowerment in long-term care. Clients and professionals start sharing their experiences and values through dialogue, and they develop mutual trust and openness while doing so.

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