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Loneliness and lost community in scenes of elderly care

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Transformations in elderly care in the Nordic welfare states have influenced the lives of very old and terminally ill citizens remarkably. The retrenchment of welfare provision has included more home-based care, less institutional care and less help for everyday living, and it has increased solitary living. Neoliberal ideals of autonomous living and individual choice have become dominant values for the organisation of the care and treatment of very old and terminally ill patients. This article looks at how care professionals and care practices have been affected. The psychosocial perspective (Lorenzer, 1986; Leithäuser, 2019) presented is that human beings experience the collective human condition in relations, and the emotions and fantasies about the life of self and others are active in forming practice. A scenic understanding is the central methodology of the article, to identify how care professionals act in reality-oriented ways, while at the same time being involved with their senses, fantasising and anticipating the life of self and others. The analysis looks at how the loneliness and precarious situation of the patients create projections of fear, aggression and loneliness in care workers, which in turn affects the relationship professionals have with citizens, and the meaning of work. The identifications and fantasies of professionals also demonstrate longing for community in very old age, and generate utopian visions about elderly care in the professional communities of practice.
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Keywords: community; elderly care; loneliness; scenic understanding; terminal illness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Roskilde University, Denmark

Publication date: October 2020

This article was made available online on September 25, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Loneliness and lost community in scenes of elderly care".

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Psychosocial Studies publishes work that falls within the broad transdisciplinary area of Psychosocial Studies, defined by a commitment to understanding the significance of the links between internal and external worlds.

    Psychosocial Studies draws on a range of disciplines to explore the interactive relationships between self, culture and society. Whilst often focusing on affect and emotion it explores the complexities of subjectivity and experience as it is lived and shaped in different contexts and settings. This approach is defined by a commitment to exploration of the links between the internal and external worlds; both the deeply personal and profoundly social.

    We are interested in publishing papers that bring a psychosocial perspective that might help us understand a range of contemporary social phenomena. This might be work on family life, welfare practices, criminal justice issues, youth work, cultural products (such as film, art and literature).

    As the adopted journal of the Association for Psychosocial Studies (APS) we especially seek to promote work that is interdisciplinary and considers issues of practice. The Journal of Psychosocial Studies provides space for research and writing that crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines in the social sciences, humanities and the arts. We also publish work that emerges from and reflects on practice (that might include for example: social work, education, law, business studies, psychotherapy, group analysis and counselling) that draws on these theoretical frames.

    The Journal provides both a supportive and an academically rigorous space for new and established researchers to disseminate ideas, and hence stimulate debate in the psychosocial field. We welcome submissions from across the globe. Our strong International Editorial Board ensures that the Journal of Psychosocial Studies provides a publishing platform that transcends international boundaries. All published academic articles undergo our thorough double-blind peer review process. Please see the instructions for authors to find out how to submit an article.

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