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Centre for Care Research

The Centre for Care Research West Norway is a cross-disciplinary research centre hosted by Bergen University College, consisting of partner institutions from the universities, university colleges, and research and health institutions across the Western Health Region of Norway.

The centre is one of five regional centres for care research, connected through a national care research centre structure, established by the Ministry of Health and Care Services and supported by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council (NFR).

The main aim of the centre is to do research and disseminate research results on the institutional conditions for competence and quality in care work, focusing municipal care services in general and elderly care in particular.

More specifically, institutional conditions encompass the economic, organizational, cultural and social frames having an influence on care work and care workers. In addition, the centre aims to contribute to the development of competent work environments in care work through practice development and implementation research, testing and evaluating different models for increasing staff competence

Main research and development priorities

  1. Study work environments in the nursing home sector with particularly high and particularly low levels of sick leave

  2. Study the effects of different forms of organization for the quality of care

  3. Develop, implement and evaluate models for increasing staff competence in the care sector.

Background

The need for research and for developing good models for building competence in municipal services caring for frail elderly people is rooted in particular to the increasing challenges related to the present ageing of the Norwegian population and to new needs arising in the elderly population.

The ageing of the population in Norway and the rest of Europe today is, in itself, a positive and unique result of our welfare states and a rising standard of living. In European countries it is presently to be expected that the proportion of people reaching 65 years or older will increase with between 50 and 100 % during the next 30 years (EUROSTAT 2005). This increase is particularly dramatic regarding the proportion of the very old (80 years or more), which runs parallel to a development involving a doubling in the number of people diagnosed with dementia (ibid.). This general development creates great challenges pertaining to care of the weakest elderly. Their very dignity is at stake when the care services are not sufficiently developed with regard to their special needs (see e.g. Alvsvåg & Tanche-Nilssen 1999; Jacobsen 1990, 2004, 2005; Tadd & Bayer 2006).

In the municipal care sector the needs among the elderly are presently more complex and composite than ever before, caused by, amongst other things, that many specialized health institutions within psychiatry and related to the care of the mentally impaired have been abandoned (Alvsvåg og Tanche-Nilssen 1999). Hence municipal care services to an increasing extent have to meet the needs of elderly psychiatric and mentally impaired patients, at the same time as dementia and complex somatic illnesses place ever greater demands on the care givers.

Research on care work in general, and research on care services for elderly sick in particular, is relatively little developed in Norway and the rest of Europe. As an indication of this, it may be mentioned that the number of scientific publications registered in Pubmed related to nursing home research for the whole of Europe (3676 publications in total) constitutes merely a quarter of what has been published in the United States (13708 in total), and that Norwegian publications make up less than a tenth (308 in total) of the European publications (source: www.pubmed.org, 14.05.08). Hence we also prioritize strong academic links and cooperation with academic environments that have developed more research concerning elderly care, not least of all the University of California, San Francisco.