Exploring unmet need: The challenge of a user-centred response

Mary Godfrey and Gill Callaghan

This briefing paper – written to inform the JRF’s Older People’s research programme – explores the meaning of unmet need from the perspective of policy makers, service providers and older people.

Drawing on conceptions of need in the literature, the paper has as its starting point the view that need is socially constructed. It then examines existing research evidence and:

  • Makes explicit the assumptions underpinning policy and service conceptions of need; 
  • Reviews what is known about levels of unmet need within this relatively narrow framework; 
  • Examines the difficulties many older people experience in translating 'felt' need into requests for help;
  • Considers how a user conception of need might be developed.
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