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The information needs and information‐seeking behaviours of home‐care workers and clients receiving home care

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Aims and objectives:  Discusses findings from doctoral research on the information behaviour of home‐care workers and their clients. The paper focuses on the findings, which have implications for health library and information services.

Sample and methods:  The qualitative research methods included participant observation in the homes of clients (n = 7), over a period of 18 months, in a city in the UK, complemented by in‐depth interviews of home‐care staff (n = 47).

Results:  Home‐care staff perceived requests for information on a variety of topics as an indivisible part of their caring role. Clients asked for more information than they had in the past, and home‐care workers were expected to respond to a wide variety of enquiries about health, welfare, leisure and domestic concerns. Clients trusted their advice as much as they might have trusted members of the family. Home‐care workers from an agency used a variety of resources at the agency office to help them, such as leaflets on welfare benefits, and health conditions. Few had used NHS Direct, and library use (by a third of the home‐care workers) was generally associated with course work or training. Some family members and home‐care staff used self‐help groups, but the research found that family members were sometimes reticent to ask advice on sensitive issues in self‐help groups. Home‐care workers learnt from each other and shared experience.

Conclusions:  Libraries and information services need to target provision of formal information carefully, as it is advice and counsel that is required in the home‐care setting.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wales Aberystwyth, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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