Analysis of Academic Research Journal Articles

The journal by Gerd Ahlstrom and Barbro Wadenste on the encounters of personal assistants working with the severely disable persons focuses on the disability policy practiced in Sweden. This journal article was an exploratory study purposefully meant to uncover the underpinnings of the encounters between the personal assistants   and persons with disabilities that need assistants: how ages affects such encounters and the obstacles that such encounters face to successfully create smooth working relationships between the two groups (assistants and the disable people). The Swedish disability policy supports the principle of equal rights as well as equal value to every person irrespective of their status. Indeed, since 1993, these rights have been enforced with persons having severe functional impairment being entitled to at least a personal assistant (SFS 1993:387, 1993:389). The personal assistance provided is however tailored towards to the individual receiving the assistance. In essence, the disable receiving the assistance have personal discretion on how the assistance is dispensed (what to be done by the assistant, when and how (Clevnert and Johansson 2007). The support given by the government to the disable extends to financial assistance depending on the government’s audit of the severity of one’s disability. The age bracket also guides this support; those in need of government support must be below 65 years old when receiving the aid for the first time and to date, approximately 19000 persons are in the government’s support database.

Background of the Study

As personal aids to the disable persons, personal assistants duties range from observing and helping the disable with personal hygiene, preparing their meals and other essential services within and outside the home. The uniqueness of the services offered within this policy discussed herein is the discretion granted to the disabled persons to manage and distribute the assistance given; a powerful shift in the trends in the ideology of carte rendered to the disable persons. The policy thus did away with the paternalistic nursing perspective based on traditional perception of superiority verses inferiority between the two groups (Charlton, 1998). In similar studies conducted prior to this one, the importance of close ties between the two groups has been established (Mattson-Prince 1997). In the United States, where the policy originated, the two groups had trouble in creating a friendly working relationship (Lindholm et al. 2005); Matsuda et al. 2005). Worries of a feasible working condition with such a policy have always dominated the concerns of the personal assistants (Wang 2007). According to the two authors, Literature has been dominated by the care relationship between the two groups discussed herein. This research deviated from the others before in that it focused on the experiences of the assistants concerning the services they offer to the disable persons.

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Research Question, Method of Data Collection and the Findings

This research was an investigation on the hurdles to full implementation and success of the Swedish disability policy. The study was a qualitative research based on interviews done to thirty-two personal assistants (aged 22- 55-year old) working for an equal number of persons with severe neurological disorders living within the vicinity of their homes. The rather amorphous interviews were written down to enable qualitative latent content analysis. Analysis conducted distinctively touched five key themes: Perception of services offered, roles perceived to be the personal and not transferable, Mutuality, relationship management, and difficulties facing the personal assistants. The unique needs of disabled persons, as well as the understanding of the assistants, also played critical roles in informing the findings of the study. According to the research findings, the need for emotional closeness between the two groups is a necessity in the process of care provision. The presence of mutuality gives a feeling of attachments and as such stimulates personal assistants to dispense their services sincerely. These kinds of relationships depend on a give and take spirit and as such a policy that seems to be reducing a personal into a tool may as de-stimulate assistants and result into negative experiences. Personal assistant thus needs educational guidance on how to give a feeling of empowerment to people with functional disability and promote good relationships between them.

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The Swedish disability policy was a policy emulate from the United States. Numerous scholars, especially in its original birthplace, had questioned the policy’s effectiveness. The researchers seemed to have settled on the interview method to get first hand information on the effectiveness of the policy in their own country and prescribe solution(s) from an informed perspective. The assistants interviewed included those on duty assisting disabled persons who constantly and extensively required help in areas of personal hygiene, care, meals, and leisure activities, and had been giving their services for at least 3 months prior to the interview.

Article 2: Purpose of the study

The second article to be analyzed in the paper is that of Bengtsson, Saveman, and Tops concerning practitioners experiences and understanding of their working with abused women suffering from mental illnesses. These three authors inform their audience the double tragedy that the mentally ill women go through even after   losing the cognitive aspects of normal lifestyles. In this article, the authors brought to the fore the insensitive attitudes, insecurity, and lack of awareness of staff members entrusted to take care of these vulnerable members of our society. More often than not, these women are more exposed to the dangers of sexual abuse, verbal harassment, threats, even unto physical violence (Bengtsson-Tops et al. 2005). From the medical point of view, people in this category are known to have diminished future expectations due to severe psychiatric symptoms, fears, poor self confidence, persistent feeling of stigmatization (O’Brien 2002); factor that all related vulnerability.

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Background of the Study

Despite the numerous policy initiatives aimed at stepping up screening on abuses committed against this particular women, the efforts have largely been ineffective due to difficulties in implementation (Chandra et al. 2003). As a result, most of the abuses do not capture the attention of care and support staff  (Humphreys and Thiara 2003) and consequently do not get the most needed intervention in time or at all (Agar and Read 2002). Apparently, lack of policy training to staff, as well as unwanted professional attitudes, are contributing factors to the women’s exacerbated suffering. Accordingly, staffs encounter these mentally ill women with distrust, which in effect translates these women’s experiences in simple hallucinations, paranoia, or just delusions (Humphrey and Thiara 2003). Seemingly, these are further violations of these women rights. Also identified to be in the mix of the problem are issues of moral dilemma of problem identification and the subsequent lack of resources to confront the bulk of problems present by women in this category.

Research Question, the Method of Data Collection, and the Findings

This research study aimed at addressing the systemic lack of knowledge concerning staff awareness of care and support needed for the mentally ill women. Specifically, the study’s main objective was to unravel the factors hindering effective handling of the vulnerable mentally ill women by care and support staff. Conducted in Sweden, the data for this study was qualitatively generated, covering 13 staff interviewees working in different welfare facilities. Content analysis and classification then followed. Participants were identified via telephone calls to leaders of station of service: community based social facilities, Psychiatric care facilities and the police department.

The reason that informed the interview method in this researcher was to establish rapport with the participants and gain their cooperation. With interviews, the researchers had the opportunity to explore the assumptions, thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and attitudes of the participants towards the mentally ill women. Indeed, the findings of the study were rather astonishing for those believed to be more knowledgeable in their line of duty. Staffs define abuse to mentally ill women as acts committed by men whom the women depended on to greater extents. As such, their perceptions of the abuses are rather ambiguous and painful, thereby making them act pragmatically. This a clear indication that the staff members are in vulnerable circumstances to promote suffering of the already overburdened women through their conditions. Majority of the support staff lack sufficient knowledge of the consequences of abuse, and how to deal with women in this particular group. All these boil down to further humiliation of the victims of such abuses. Educational programs to staff members on how handle such cases is thus recommended.

The Similarity in the Two Articles

The two articles are similar quite a number of ways. First, they are investigative articles within the social care and support for those in precarious conditions; all deal with persons with severe disabilities. In both articles, those providing care and support to people with different vulnerabilities seem to lack adequate knowledge in handling the tasks assigned to them. As such, both have recommended educational guiding principles to streamline services of the caregivers. Again, the methods of data collection are similar. Both articles have utilized interview method to collect information needed.   

The Strengths and Weaknesses Interview Method Utilized In Both Articles

Both articles employed the interview method. The researchers had the flexibility to adapt questions according to the participant’s responses. They were able to explore deeper into the information sought after and as such had the opportunity to explore the assumptions, thoughts, emotions, perceptions, and attitudes of the participants towards the care receivers. In as much this method was resource in generating the data needed by these researchers, the method is a little bit expensive and time consuming. Transcription and telephone interviews are costly and they affected the scale of the research. It is wonder then that, in the two studies, only a handful of participants were picked. 

Knowledge Value Addition

From the two articles, it has been apparent that generating policies without a powerful framework of implementation may not yield results. The need for cultural competence in the field of caregivers (from doctors to nurses) is seemingly inevitable. Models for empowering both sides in health and social care may well help in promoting an understanding of the professional codes so that no side feel pushed too much by the laws enacted. In any case, the quality of care provided is dependent on the conduct of the service provider in view of the customer.

The Experiences from the Articles

Whether a newcomer to holistic health care practice, a seasoned provider of complementary therapies, knowledgebase continue to grow with interactive and informative journal articles. It is only through knowledge sharing that one can get to know which part of knowledgebase needs more understanding. Perfection is near impossibility. However, we can learn today to correct pitfalls of the future. From the United States to the heart Swedish policymaking mechanisms, a policy has been adopted. Health care is sensitive sector and policies adopted in practice must endeavor to create harmonious relationships between caregivers and the receivers. Otherwise, the quality of services dispensed might be comprised through negative experiences.

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