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Support to ‘non-clients’: care managers’ role in direct and indirect carer support

Social service provision in Europe has increasingly incorporated informal carers. Consequently, these carers are now included within the scope of all social workers, including care managers. Most support for carers is indirect support, where opportunities for respite are channelled through the care receiver’s needs assessment. This approach highlights the unique role of care managers providing carer support as they balance their public task directed towards clients with the concurrent policy-driven expectation to support carers. The aim of this article is to explore how care managers, as street-level bureaucrats, ‘make’ carer support policy on the ground. Using systematic text condensation of 10 qualitative interviews with care managers in Sweden, we present three themes to understand care managers’ experiences. Care managers work ‘Hand-in-hand’ and ‘hands on’ with carers, carers are within, yet outside one’s scope of work, and there are possibilities and practices towards a carer perspective. Following Lipsky’s dictum that street-level bureaucrats’ actions effectively ‘become’ the public policy they carry out, our results highlight care managers’ possibilities and challenges in shaping what direct and indirect carer support looks like on the ground.

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Cristina Joy Torgé
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Journal article - open access