Cheers Lads! Nursing Homes for Older People with Substance Use Disorder in Swedish Print Media

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Håkan JÖNSON, Lund University, School of Social Work, Sweden
Tove HARNETT, Lund University, School of Social Work, Sweden
The aim of the paper is to investigate representations of nursing homes for older persons with substance use disorder in Swedish print media. Several municipalities arrange ‘wet’ facilities, where people aged 50+ may use alcohol. The aim is not abstinence but harm reduction. Wet facilities face moral dilemmas and challenges: watching people drink themselves to death, handling peer pressure to keep drinking, handling intoxication, aggression, visitors, bedbugs. Are these challenges reflected in print media? Data for the study consisted of all articles that reported on two nursing homes in the city of Gothenburg in the media database Retriever during 1995-2017: a total of 65 articles. Qualitative content analysis was used to identify relevant themes. The main finding was that the mostly positive reports on wet nursing home as a humane alternative to homelessness tended to become idyllic when facilities were described in depth and in these reports, managers and residents where interviewed and portrayed. The absence of attempts to treat was even presented as a means to reduce drinking in itself, rather than an attempt to work on a difficult dilemma in care for older persons with long term problems. A different type of reports appeared in July 2017 when members of staff at one of the facilities turned to the local newspaper, arguing that they had to face threats, abuse and violence from intoxicated residents, and did not get support from managers. During the scandal, the facility was described as “The house that God forgot” and voices were raised against “giving up” on people instead of providing treatment. The media scandal did not alter the municipal policy, and a likely reason for this is that problems that were highlighted had already been acknowledged by decision makers as part of the difficult reality of wet facilities.