Family Group Conferencing for older adults: Social workers’ views

Rosalie N. Metze, Tineke A. Abma, M. H. Kwekkeboom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Summary: Family Group Conferencing as deployed in child care might be useful in elderly care to strengthen older adults’ social networks and self-mastery. When Family Group Conferencing was implemented for older adults in the Netherlands, social workers were reluctant to refer. To discover reasons for this reluctance, we examined social workers’ views and attitudes concerning Family Group Conferencing for their clients. Findings: In an initial exploratory study, we distributed a survey among social workers who worked with older adults and were informed about Family Group Conferencing, followed by three focus groups of social workers with and without Family Group Conferencing experience. We also held semi-structured individual interviews with social workers and an employee of the Dutch Family Group Conferencing foundation. The respondents were positive about Family Group Conferencing, but hesitant about referring their older clients. Reasons were: they were already working with their clients’ social networks; they feared losing control over the care process; and they wondered how they could motivate their clients. They also reported that their clients themselves were reluctant, because they seemed to fear that Family Group Conferencing would lose them self-mastery, and they did not want to burden their social networks. Applications: Our findings indicate that implementing Family Group Conferencing in elderly care is a complicated and slow process, partly because social workers have little experience with Family Group Conferencing. To facilitate social workers it might be necessary to offer them more guidance, in a joint process with the Family Group Conferencing foundation. One might also experiment with alterations to the Family Group Conferencing model, for example, by focusing less on family networks and more on reciprocity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-371
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

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