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Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development of Long-term Care in Slovenia
Long-term care is gaining in importance and recognition in developed countries, especially in the context of social policies. Accompanied with the recent trend of population ageing, the increasing number of fragile elderly individuals that require long-term care services and the growing shortage of skilled social workers to provide long-term care services it has become clear that long-term care represents a serious challenge for our society. In addition, such demographic and economic trends of long-term care create an almost impossible future unless new solutions are discovered and implemented to provide care for the elderly. Moreover, policy makers in many countries do not yet understand the pattern of growing needs for long-term care services and have no tool to forecast the future increase in the need of adequately skilled social workers to provide such services.
In our paper, we argue that the availability of social workers in a national economy depends on the development and operationalization of appropriate policies, where soft measures such as knowledge management can be beneficial. To test the potential influence of knowledge management on the availability of skilled social workers we apply an objective measurement tool (multiple decrement model), grounded in an already developed actuarial-mathematical method. Our case relies on readily available secondary data for Slovenia. Existing data enables us to provide recommendations on how to ensure an adequate number of appropriately skilled social workers that will provide long-term care services in the future.
Recent research already shows that knowledge management is continuously spreading beyond its original private sector roots and is connecting with other disciplines such as social work, which is something that was hard to imagine at the beginning of this scientific discipline. With our study we contribute to knowledge management in long-term care and in social work as it still nowadays underdeveloped and underutilized in practice. Especially, our results are intended to provoke the discussion about the necessity of the sustainable development of long-term care and social work among important national policy makers, where we believe knowledge management can be influential.
To conclude, we believe that it is integral to promote a more profound understanding of knowledge management in the context of long-term care and social work. In the future, it would be beneficial to compare our results to other developed (European) countries. In the context of this study, our biggest limitation is that the transition matrix is only hypothesized. Moreover, it has only moderate estimates of how knowledge management could potentially impact the future availability of skilled social workers.