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Grell, P., Blom, B. & Ahmadi, N. (2019). Conditions for helping relations in specialized personal social services: a client perspective on the influence of organizational structure. Nordic Social Work Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conditions for helping relations in specialized personal social services: a client perspective on the influence of organizational structure
2019 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article highlights organizational structure as a factor influencing conditions for helping relations. It is based on a survey study and an interview study, both directed at parents in families that have parallel contacts in different parts of Swedish personal social services (PSS). The aim is to describe and analyse conditions for helping relations when clients with complex needs encounter specialized PSS.

Low system trust, people processing dimensions of work, and an organizational and a professional emphasis on formal organizational structures and boundaries were found to constitute unfavourable conditions. Conversely, an occurrence of individual trust, people sustaining and people changing dimensions of work, as well as informal organization and individual social workers’ boundary spanning efforts, constituted favourable conditions. The article concludes that greater understanding of how clients are affected by contextual service conditions can give some pointers towards how to generally improve services for vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.

Keywords
Helping relations, social services, organizational structure, specialization, client perspective
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-29406 (URN)10.1080/2156857X.2019.1596148 (DOI)
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2018-01352
Available from: 2019-03-28 Created: 2019-03-28 Last updated: 2019-10-04Bibliographically approved
Grell, P., Ahmadi, N. & Blom, B. (2017). The Balancing Act: Clients with Complex Needs Describe Their Handling of Specialised Personal Social Services in Sweden. British Journal of Social Work, 47(3), 611-629
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Balancing Act: Clients with Complex Needs Describe Their Handling of Specialised Personal Social Services in Sweden
2017 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 47, no 3, p. 611-629Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Dealing with specialised social service organisations can be a challenge for clients with complex needs. These organisations may appear confusing and hard to navigate, and there is also a risk of service fragmentation, as such clients often participate simultaneously in an array of interventions. An additional complication to be handled is that these parallel interventions can range from voluntary to more or less involuntary. The aim of the present article is to describe and analyse how clients with complex needs account for their handling of service conditions within specialised personal social services (PSS), using data from a qualitative interview study with PSS clients in Sweden. A conceptual model is presented, covering four ideal typical client approaches to these specialised services: consensus, resignation, fight and escape. One key finding is that the clients combined these approaches in a balancing act intended to promote their own best interests in their parallel contacts with different parts of the specialised PSS organisation. The article concludes that future improvements in social services could be made by paying more attention to the structural arrangements that surround encounters between clients and the social services, as well as clients’ valuable first-hand knowledge of social service organisations.

Keywords
Personal social services, organisational structure, specialization, client perspective
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22319 (URN)10.1093/bjsw/bcw042 (DOI)000404553500002 ()2-s2.0-85022343385 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2016-05-10 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
Grell, P. (2016). Komplexa behov eller komplexa organisationer?: konsekvenser av specialiserad individ- och familjeomsorg ur ett klientperspektiv. (Doctoral dissertation). Umeå: Umeå universitet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Komplexa behov eller komplexa organisationer?: konsekvenser av specialiserad individ- och familjeomsorg ur ett klientperspektiv
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Complex needs or complex organizations? : consequences of specialized personal social services from a client perspective
Abstract [en]

Even though recent decades have seen a clear trend towards organizational specialization within Swedish personal social services (PSS), there is a lack of knowledge about the consequences of this, particularly from a client perspective. The aim of this compilation thesis is to describe and analyse the consequences of organizational specialization for clients with complex needs. The empirical material consists of a survey and an interview study, both addressing clients whose needs can be considered complex since they entail several parallel contacts with different specialized PSS units. Article one is a research review aimed at summarizing and discussing the research on organizational structures in the social services, and these structures' impact on work with clients. The review suggests that, to function adequately, social service organizations need to combine and balance aspects of both specialization and integration. Article two aims to describe and analyse how clients with complex needs perceive and value the service conditions of the organizationally specialized PSS. The main findings are that clients primarily perceive and value their encounters with the specialized PSS negatively, and that they experience several elements of service fragmentation. The aim of article three is to describe and analyse how clients with complex needs account for their handling of service conditions within specialized PSS. A key finding is that clients combine different approaches (categorized as consensus, resignation, fight, and escape) in a balancing act intended to promote their own best interests. Article four aims to describe and analyse how clients with complex needs perceive the conditions for helping relations in a PSS setting marked by organizational specialization. A lack of system trust, the people-processing dimensions of work, and an organizational and professional emphasis on formal organizational structures and boundaries were found to constitute unfavourable conditions. Conversely, the occurrence of individual trust, the people-sustaining and people-changing dimensions of client work, and the boundary-spanning efforts of both informal organizations and individual social workers constituted favourable conditions. The thesis concludes that there seems to be a substantial lack of fit between the logics and features of organizational specialization on one hand, and the complex and interwoven nature of clients’ actual needs and everyday lives on the other. It is also argued that organizational specialization means that the complexity involved in encounters between clients and the PSS is overlooked or obscured. Further research on the structural arrangements and service conditions that surround encounters between clients and the social services is suggested, especially research that adopts a client perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. p. 82
Series
Studier i socialt arbete vid Umeå universitet : avhandlings- och skriftserie, ISSN 0283-300X ; 83
Keywords
Organizational specialization, personal social services, complex needs, client perspective
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22318 (URN)978-91-7601-537-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-09-16, Krusenstjernasalen (23:213), Kungsbäcksvägen 47, Gävle, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-08-30 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2020-03-24Bibliographically approved
Grell, P., Ahmadi, N. & Blom, B. (2016). ‘Sometimes it’s really complicated!’: clients with complex needs on their encounters with specialised personal social service organisations in Sweden. Nordic Social Work Research, 6(3), 188-200
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘Sometimes it’s really complicated!’: clients with complex needs on their encounters with specialised personal social service organisations in Sweden
2016 (English)In: Nordic Social Work Research, ISSN 2156-857X, E-ISSN 2156-8588, Vol. 6, no 3, p. 188-200Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Research in the field of human services has paid limited attention to the consequences of the international development toward organisational specialisation; the consequences for clients have been overlooked in particular. The aim of the article is to describe and analyse the consequences of organizationally specialised personal social services (PSS) in Sweden for clients with complex needs. Findings from a survey and an interview study addressing PSS clients show that clients primarily perceived their encounters with the specialised PSS negatively, and that they experienced several elements of service fragmentation. Implications of the findings are discussed in light of previous research and theory in the area.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2016
Keywords
Personal social services, client perspective, specialisation, service fragmentation, service integration
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-21302 (URN)10.1080/2156857X.2016.1156017 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-03-15 Created: 2016-03-09 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
Grell, P., Ahmadi, N. & Blom, B. (2013). Hur inverkar organisationsstrukturen på socialtjänstens klientarbete?: en sammanfattning av kunskapsläget. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift (3-4), 222-240
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hur inverkar organisationsstrukturen på socialtjänstens klientarbete?: en sammanfattning av kunskapsläget
2013 (Swedish)In: Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift, ISSN 1104-1420, no 3-4, p. 222-240Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Förbundet För Forskning i Socialt Arbete, 2013
National Category
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-16600 (URN)
Available from: 2014-04-30 Created: 2014-04-30 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
Grell, P., Ahmadi, N. & Blom, B.Organizationally specialized personal social services and clients with complex needs: conditions for helping relations.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Organizationally specialized personal social services and clients with complex needs: conditions for helping relations
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Keywords
Personal social services, organizational specialization, helping relations, client perspective
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-22320 (URN)
External cooperation:
Available from: 2016-08-23 Created: 2016-08-30 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved
Projects
Informal organization in specialized personal social services - an unexplored path to service integration for clients with complex needs [2018-01352_Forte]; University of Gävle; Publications
Grell, P., Blom, B. & Ahmadi, N. (2019). Conditions for helping relations in specialized personal social services: a client perspective on the influence of organizational structure. Nordic Social Work Research
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-8532-4383

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