Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


11 Sep 2016 - 16 Sep 2016
Course directors:
Jana Mali, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ana Štambuk, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Course description:

Social work perspective in long-term care

The increasing and continually changing needs of the older generation are issues which have occupied professionals from various fields in recent years. For social work, demographical changes pose a significant interest. Older people have moved from being a marginal concern in the middle of the 20th century, to one of central importance for social work in this century. The specific nature of social work lies in transversal understanding of older people, their needs, and in the assertion of the user as a partner in the helping process. In this course, we explore how social work is tackling this challenge.

Course directors (alphabetically):

hJana Mali, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ana Štambuk, Faculty of Law Zagreb, Department of Social Work, Croatia

2016 Organising director:

Jana Mali, Faculty of Social Work, University of Ljubljana


Long-term care is a phenomenon that can be described as a response to demographic changes faced by all countries of the world. The rapid aging of the population and the simultaneous decrease in the percentage of the young population in modern industrial societies, have radically affected the systems that until recently have been relatively stable. Higher life expectancy, the advance of medicine, the decrease in the share of an active population and the increasing number of assistance-dependent persons, have caused changes in family and intergenerational relations. The ratio between people assisting and receiving care has radically changed. Consequently, the risk of the failure to provide adequate care and support has increased, while at the same time the burden shouldered by those who provide care has become heavier. Another reason for the launching of long-term care debate is the process of deinstitutionalisation – the closure of large institutions and the restructuring of care towards alternative forms of community services. While some think that this radical change is a cause for alarm, it can also be perceived as an incentive to search for new forms of co-existence and solidarity. Accordingly, long-term care will be a key factor in ensuring social stability in the future. The paradigm of care has also changed; the emphasis is now on the person and his/her needs, and assistance is considered to be effective if it responds to a person’s needs in accordance with his/her expectations.

In a new area of integrated long-term care that enables various disciplines to form common strategies for help and solidarity, social work with older people has to define its role. At the symposium we will focus on specific questions related to social work, i.e. the relationship between formal and informal help; development of the new information and telecommunication technologies based on the needs of older people; how to include older people as the users of long-term care in the new system of care; how to include older people in research and projects which attempt to identify new ways of care provision; what are the cultural contexts of long-term care etc.

Recommended reading:

Flaker, V., (2011) 'Long-term care – a challenge to the crisis and a new paradigm of care', Dialogue in Praxis: A Social Work International Journal, vol. 0 (13), no. 0 (21), pp 57–66.

Flaker, V., Grebenc, V., Kodele, T., Mali, J., Urek, M. (2014) Where do you live? – Housing and long-term care. Dialogue in praxis, vol. 2 (15), no. 1–2 (24–25), pp 111–132.

Mali, J. (2012) 'Deinstitutionalisation as a challenge for the development of community-based care for older people', Dialogue in praxis, vol. 1 (14), no. 1–2 (22–23), pp 57–69.

Rafaelič, A., Nagode, M., Flaker, V. (2013), 'Direct payments as a means of long-term care provision and a vehicle of resettlement from total institutions', Dialogue in praxis, vol. 2 (15), no. 1–2 (24–25), pp 93–109.

Attached documents
Pogramme and Abstracts