Food distribution (FD) is a part of the public social and care service in Sweden aiming to prevent improper food intake for persons that they are unable to do their own shopping, and prepare their own meals, and in that way ensure reasonable standard of living. Before a person can be granted the FD service, from any municipality, an assessment of their individual requirements has to be made by a public home care officer.
The aim of this study was to explore how public home care officers reason when they make a needs assessment for homebound elderly people.
The data was collected through individual interviews (n=18). The transcribed interview material was analysed by means of the grounded theory method.
The findings showed that the public home care officers were confronted with many challenges when making an assessment of a person’s individual needs. They are influenced by their subjective feelings related to their personal views as to what should be the right solution for the individual. However, they remained aware that they needed to be guided by the legal requirements. Further, they described that the level of an individual’s living standard is a leading concept in the governing laws that they need to interpret. Interpretation of this concept is very subjective with the possible consequence that an assessment result may lead to inefficient support.
In conclusion, the concept of a reasonable standard of living needs to be clearly defined, decision regarding FD should not take long time, need assessment and decision should be based on the whole picture behind each individual case and there are needs to develop general guidelines for making needs assessment. The findings in this study have implications for public administration, nursing and gerontology.
2013. Vol. 5, no 5, 31-40 p.