L’autonégligence chez les aînés : des défis pour la pratique. (Self Neglect Among Older Adults: Challenges for the Practice) This is how Fiona Neesham-Grenon introduced her master’s work to an audience captivated by the theme she addressed.
During the last week, Fiona presented the results of her research to the regional coordinator of the Plan d’action gouvernemental pour contrer la maltraitance envers les personnes aînées 2010-2015 (Governmental Action Plan to Counter Mistreatment of Older Adults 2010-2015), to the representatives of the Seniors’ Secretariat, to the members of the Walloon mission visiting Sherbrooke as well as her colleagues, the social workers of the CSSS-IUGS.
Self neglect is still a concept somewhat poorly defined. Is it linked to a medical diagnostic? Is it mistreatment? Is it frequent? One thing is certain, these complex situations often lead to a feeling of heaviness and powerlessness among psychosocial practitioners dealing with this phenomenon still poorly named, poorly identified and poorly understood.
Thirteen practitioners connected to three CSSS in Estrie have accepted to be interviewed about their professional experience with self neglecting people. Their report allowed to meet the research goals that were chosen:
1. Rebuild the meaning of the concept
2. Identify the practice challenges, the resources and actions
3. Propose intervention and reflection guidelines
4. Think about the link between self neglect and mistreatment
This work allowed to identify four great challenges or practice issues the three convened principal actors in intervention in mistreatment, which are the older adult, the social worker and the CSSS (practice context) must face. The challenges are risk management, the environmental pressure, the older adult’s collaboration and the intensity and frequency of the services. This exploratory research contributes to the development of knowledge by allowing to elaborate on this unclear aspect that is practice with self neglecting people. Suggestions for future research and intervention give a preview of potential upcoming work to support the practice.