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Riitta Koivula, Christoffer Tigerstedt, Anni Vilkko, Kristiina Kuussaari and Satu Pajala

Abstract

AIMS - In this article the authors ask how the alcohol use of elderly home care clients affects the daily work of home care professionals and how the professionals act to support the drinking client. METHODS - Semi-structured interviews with 10 home care professionals were conducted from December 2014 to February 2015 in the Helsinki metropolitan area of Finland. Everyday situations during home visits related to the clients’ alcohol use were analysed according to modalities of agency of the home care professionals. RESULTS - The results focus on three themes raised in the interviews: supporting life management of the client, the lack of qualifications in tackling clients’ drinking and the need for multi-professional collaboration. Intoxicated clients complicated the home care nurses’ work and obstructed the implementation of recommendations set out to guide the professionals’ operations. Care work with alcohol-using clients was particularly demanding, and the professionals were concerned about not having enough training in how to encounter elderly clients’ drinking. Multi-professional collaboration with substance abuse services and emergency department personnel was called for to remedy this problem. CONCLUSIONS - More extensive and detailed research is needed for a better picture of how clients’ drinking influences home care nurses’ working conditions and what kind of skills nurses need in different alcohol-related situations. Such research would have the potential to benefit clients and improve the well-being of the employees.