Why do administrators employ or not employ support contacts? A Norwegian qualitative study
Nordic Journal of Social Research
This is a qualitative study based on statements by administrators in the dementia sector in Norwegian local authorities. The aim of the present study is to investigate the arguments for and barriers to the allocation and organization of support contacts for people with dementia and their families. Various services are needed to help these families from being isolated. 'Support contacts' can be one such service, yet the local authorities rarely use them in the Norwegian dementia-care sector and
... ittle is known about why that is so. Support contacts are 'paid friends' and their tasks can be compared to respite carers or volunteers in other Western countries. The data was gathered from interviews with 35 informants (34 women and one man, aged 35-66 years) during 2011, from 32 local authorities in Norway. The analysis of data involved a qualitative content analysis. Three main categories emerged: 'knowledge', 'accessibility', and 'management'. 'Knowledge' describes the range of an administrator's familiarity both with dementia and with the legislation concerning the offering of a support contact to families with dementia, and it has two subcategories: 'formal knowledge' and 'experiential knowledge'. The category of 'reaching out' describes the circumstances that lead families with 18 dementia to apply for help and contains the subcategories of 'supplying information' about the service and 'characteristics of target group' receiving a support contact. The category of 'management of services' describes the various ways in which a supporter service may work satisfactorily and contains the subcategories 'recruitment' and 'organization'. In conclusion, the administrators consider support contacts to be a valuable service. The authors conclude that managers of local authorities need to organize their departments in a way that administrators will have sufficient knowledge about making the service available and supporter contacts will receive the necessary guidance and knowledge to maintain the service effectively.