perjantai 22. toukokuuta 2015


Friday is the third day of the Summer School, and another day for us all to participate in inspiring lectures and conversations. It is absolutely fantastic to have this kind of opportunity to listen and learn from professionals and students all over the globe. The atmosphere is filled with enthusiasm and empowerment! From the wide range of subjects today, we chose to focus on two themes. One is managerialism and the other is the issue of ageing people in need of social security.
Dr. Vivian W.Q. Lou from Hong Kong gave us a presentation about the professional development process of social work. She argued that social work develops when facing social changes and challenges. Today the challenge to concur is: how to adopt managerialism in social work processes without compromising the ethics of the profession? Managerialism is about administration, where competition, efficiency and economy are the core values. It offers principles on governing services, but it does not offer solutions to social problems. The principles of managerialism are relevant to managing an enterprise, but in social work that is not the case to manage. In the development process of social work, this challenge provokes to define social work again. Who are we as social work professionals and how do we act in that position? In other words, it is defining the identity, ethics and core competence of the profession.
The lovely and smiling students from Hong Kong presented us an age-friendly program in their student panel. This program has been developed there to improve the situation of the rapidly growing population of ageing people. The program’s aim is to empower the elderly people. It focuses on giving them opportunities to influence the society by introducing them their true potential and opportunities to make changes. Key concept is “active ageing”, a transformation from needs-based to rights-based approach. Students argued that even though ageing people have got rights, they need shared information about that, and understand the impact of their own significant role as change-agent in the society. Students remarked that ageing people seem to require permission to express their opinions. Active ageing means optimizing their chances in life and makes it possible for them to participate. This is important for them in experiencing worthiness, dignity and sense of belonging to society. Instead of pushing them in the margin of society just because they are no longer productive members of society as before.

After the presentation there was a conversation about how taking care of the elderly people is changing in Hong Kong. Today’s generation is more self-absorbed than their parents or grandparents were. Today’s young people find it difficult to take care of the needs of three generations: their ageing parents, their own growing children and their own wants. Therefore ageing people have to cope with their daily lives more and more independently. Many of them are forced to work because they do not have enough money to cover the basic needs like housing, food and health care. That is why a public safety net and proper pensions are needed desperately.

According to the Finnish student panel, it seems that we have this same change going on in Finland too. Finnish students brought up taboos that we have in our society. One of the taboos is how do we treat ageing population in Finland? Headlines in the news for past six months have revealed “expensive but poor quality food, violence in a nursing home and loneliness”. In general, it can be easier among people to look away than to act against and start discussing something that others would rather ignore. When it comes to social work, social workers are dealing with taboos all the time. It is necessary, even though taboos are sensitive subjects and they can be difficult to recognise.

Finally, we want to thank all the lecturers and student panelists for thought-provoking and inspiring presentations! The third day of International Summer School continues with the evening program and there will be The International Evening -party at the University. 

Marika Suutari & Pirkko Junttila, University of Lapland, Finland

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