Lilian Linders is docent-onderzoeker bij Fontys Hogeschool Sociale Studies. Momenteel doet zij, via de Universiteit van Tilburg, promotieonderzoek naar de rol van sociale netwerken bij het geven van informele zorg en naar de vraag hoe professionals informele zorg kunnen stimuleren en ondersteunen. De bevindingen in dit artikel zijn afkomstig uit dit promotieonderzoek. Publicaties van Lilian Linders kunt u vinden via www.fontys.nl als u zoekt naar medewerker ‘Linders’. E-mail: L.Linders@fontys.nl.
In January 2007 a Social Support Act (Wet maatschappelijke ondersteuning) has been introduced in the Netherlands. This law stipulates that people should claim formal care only when their resources of informal care are exhausted. To find out how informal care takes shape we interviewed informal caregivers in a slightly backward neighbourhood in a medium-sized city in the Netherlands. In this contribution we show that several assumptions of the designers of the law are not in line with the results of our research. The first assumption we challenge is that of the citizen who misuses welfare state support and who doesn’t take responsibility. Our findings indicate that many people with physical and social problems help each other in many ways and in that respect they do take their responsibility. The second assumption we encountered is the shortage of the supply of informal care in our society. Instead we found a strong resistance among the interviewees to ask for or accept informal care. The problem of informal care seems to be more a problem of demand than of supply. The third and last assumption we challenge is that of ‘strong and healthy people helping vulnerable people’. We found that vulnerable people mainly support each other.