Background and purpose: This project departs from the research gaps that exist in the debate on institutional categorization as far as the implications of gender and ethnic ‘otherness’ are concerned. There is also a gap in the manner in which such understandings affect the political economy of care that this project aims to address. The project focuses on need assessment practice within the context of Swedish elderly care and aims to explore if and how understandings of cross-cultural care interaction, ethnic ‘Otherness’ and gender affect the manners in which need assessment processes legitimize and restrict access to certain elderly care services. This presentation is based on an ongoing study focusing on the understandings that care managers of elderly care uphold in order to legitimize the services that they make available to elderly care applicants. Data for the study were collected through focus groups interviews with care managers.
Results: The findings from the study suggests that care managers understandings of ethnic 'Otherness' do affect the need assessment process and that alternative elderly care services are being designed as a result of it which differentiate between older people with migrant backgrounds and those who belong to the ethnic majority population. As such, a differentiation is being made between migrant elders and Swedish elders in a manner that resembles the 'us' and 'them' dynamics that characterize power un-awared ethnic relations. The presentation will address how the understandings of the care managers in question are constructed.
Conclusion and implications: The presentation will contribute to the debate on institutional categorization in social work and how lack of an awareness of implications on ethnic otherness influence power differentials and the manner in which welfare services are distributed.
Key words: Needs assessment, elderly care, gender, ethnic otherness, migrant clients
2nd European Conference for Social Work Research, March 22-24 in Basel, Switzerland.