A massive restructuring of health care in virtually all the wealthy nations of the West has offloaded services and costs from governmental responsibility into home care services and onto families -- a burden borne primarily by women. This restructuring has profoundly altered not only the practice of social work but also its representation in language and theory. As this volume demonstrates, many of the consequences social workers must face are made more difficult by the dominance of a market discourse that excludes a social justice framework.
The authors aim not to prescribe specific guidelines for practice but "to challenge current arrangements and explanations" in order to open the discourse and generate alternatives so that people receiving care might have fuller and more satisfying lives. Written by social work theorists and specialists from the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand, the chapters focus on topics of long-term care as they affect vulnerable groups -- women in particular -- as they age. Subjects include constructing community support, aging and caregiving in culturally diverse families, changing demographics of widowhood, and the new millennium's challenges for social work on aging and disability.
Neysmiths book provides us with a critical feminist analysis and vision that focuses on vulnerable older women. It challenges us to move beyond our traditional frameworks to new conceptualizations of aging, disability and autonomy, empowerment and gender justice, power relationships inherent in caregiving and community-based care, and ethnocultural differences among the growing older population. I finished the book excited and hopeful about new paragidms for ' critical social work practice with older people in the twenty-first century. I hope that the stimulating dialogue started by this feminist perspective will continue in social work.