Title of ArticleOn collaboration between nurses and social workers in the service of older people living at home. A critical literature review
Type of ArticleCritical Review of Literature
Author/sAgneta Cronqvist and Kenneth Sundh
ReferenceVolume 3, Issue 2, Article 6
Date of PublicationNovember 2013
Keywordscollaboration, cooperation, literature review, new institutionalism, nurses, older people, social workers

Background: Western European countries are facing financial constraints that mean reduced spending on health and social care. Collaboration between disciplines may be one way to make the necessary savings. Collaboration between health and social workers in providing services to older people living at home is promoted by the public authorities, but no guidance is given on how to achieve it.

Aim: Our aim was to perform a literature review to describe and analyse strategies for collaboration between health and social workers in the provision of care for older people living at home.

Methods: Systematic, unsystematic and manual searches were undertaken to find international primary research. Databases searched were: Academic Search Premier; AgeLine; Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts; Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature; Cochrane Library; MedLine; ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health Source; PubMed; Social Services Abstracts; Sociological Abstracts; and SocINDEX. Separate search strategies were developed for each database in line with its stipulated controlled vocabulary.

Findings: During the analysis, the following themes were identified: purpose; participants; setting; country; method; results; rationale for the study; collaboration; conclusions; authors’ comments; and reviewers’ comments. Nine articles were found, indicating that this subject is short on evidence. The results are explained from the perspective of critical social theory.

Conclusions: Reports exist on collaboration between nurses and social workers in the care of older people showing that it can be beneficial both for recipients of care and carers, although few articles were identified. From a critical social theory perspective, effective collaboration may occur in well defined and strictly limited areas, such as preventive home visits. This must be taken into consideration in order to create a successful collaboration in practice to support older people living at home.

Implications for practice:

  • Collaboration between nurses and social workers in older persons’ care could be beneficial for recipients and carers
  • Successful collaboration may occur in a well defined and strictly limited area; preventive home visits in elderly care is such area
  • When planning for a collaboration project there is a need to discriminate between collaboration and cooperation; in the latter delegation could be a key feature, giving an asymmetric working relationship

This article by Agneta Cronqvist and Kenneth Sundh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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