Due to rapid demographic changes, contemporary societies, including Slovenia, are facing many challenges in the provision and development of various quality services in the care for the elderly. In the municipality of Tolmin, there are various community-based forms of care for the elderly, and there are also three homes for the elderly. However, the queues for a home for the elderly are still long indicating that some changes are needed. To bring some changes in the current situation, we first need to explore the everyday life of the elderly, their needs, distresses and desires. In my master´s thesis, I wanted to do that; to learn through conversation how people in the municipality of Tolmin live, what they need in their everyday life, what are the hardships they face and also what is their attitude towards leaving their own home and move into an institution. My wish was to derive an answer, what additional forms of care, based on the needs and desires, would the elderly need and also to identify the direction in which would it make sense to direct the development of care for the elderly in this area.
In the first part of my master´s thesis, I write about demographic changes, which bring with it the requirement for many new developments in the field of care for the elderly. Further, I present institutional care for the elderly and then I focus on community-based care, which is becoming increasingly important for quality age. Based on the desire of the elderly to stay at their home, I speak about the importance of the home environment for the elderly and the importance of family in caring for an old person. In the last part, I make a connection with the field of social work, with an emphasis on the role of the social worker in relationship with the elderly and the principles that are important in social work with the elderly. In the last part of the theoretical introduction I make an overview of the situation and present the existing forms of care for the elderly in the municipality of Tolmin.
In the second, empirical part of the master´s thesis, I present the methodology and results of the qualitative research that I conducted with elderly people from the municipality of Tolmin at their homes. I used a questionnaire as a measuring tool and a semi-structured interview as a method of data collection. The research unit, as mentioned above, represented older people over 65 years old, waiting for acceptance in a home for the elderly. I have found that older people face a variety of needs during the waiting period, with the help of both formal and informal caregivers. However, the help of informal, especially family caregivers, is only a temporary solution, because in time, by increasing the amount of assistance the old person needs, it becomes too much of a burden for family members. Even so, the first wish of older people I spoke to was not to go to an institution, but to stay in their home or community for as long as possible. This implies the need to introduce new, innovative forms of care that would facilitate the role of family members in care. At the same time, we would approach the elderly in this way and take into account their key desire to remain in their environment, to which they are bound by various bonds and memories. I found that long queues for acceptance in a home for the elderly reflect an urgent situation in which an old person is, most often because of his poor health, and are not a reflection of his true desire. That is why I suggest prolonged home care or the establishment of small, local homes in several parts of the municipality of Tolmin. These would allow the elderly to remain in their community, get all the help and safety they need, and reduce their loneliness.