Becoming a client of the Danish social service system increases stress in parents of disabled infants

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

INTRODUCTION: Parents of a young child with severe disabilities are facing a large range of new challenges; furthermore, most of these families have extended social needs regarding information, financial support, day care facilities, disability aids, etc. Many parents with disabled children have been found to be dissatisfied with social services. This study explores parents' experiences with Danish social services during their transition to a new daily life after the birth of a severely disabled child.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Repeated qualitative interviews were performed individually with 16 parents of a severely disabled young child during the first two years after the diagnosis of the child's disabilities. Data were analysed using grounded theory.

RESULTS: We found that the encounter with the social services increased stress in the families. Parental expectations were not met, especially regarding information; parents felt clientized, and obtaining social support was very resource consuming. Parents' needs regarding practical support and empathic case-working were not met and they spent much time and effort due to lacking continuity between sectors.

CONCLUSION: Parents have specific needs when becoming clients in the social service system whose organisation of social services needs improvement. Health care professionals are advised to identify problems and support cooperation between the parents and the social service system, as well as to report the health-related consequences of prolonged and inefficient case-working for the child and its parents.

FUNDING: was received from Socialministeriet, Landsforeningen LEV, Ronald McDonalds Børnefond, Susie og Peter Robinsohns fond, Rosalie Petersens fond, PLU-fonden, Ville Heises fond, Sygesikringens forskningsfond, Helsefonden, Elsass fonden.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDanish Medical Bulletin (Online)
Volume58
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)A4270
Number of pages1
ISSN1603-9629
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

ID: 34212931