How to Cite

GRZELKA, M., & SZOSTAKOWSKA, K. (2019). ‘NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING’: KINSHIP CAREGIVERS AND THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH SOCIAL SERVICES IN POLAND. Society Register, 3(4), 97–114. https://doi.org/10.14746/sr.2019.3.4.06


This paper provides a window into the ways kinship caregivers of elderly persons and people with disabilities describe their experiences with social services in Poland. Kinship caregivers in Poland, the majority of whom are women, often struggle with inadequate access to social services dedicated to people with disabilities and the elderly. One of the major issues faced by caregivers who try to secure these services, are complex rules and regulations which frequently make it very difficult to access information and assistance. By the way of critical discourse analysis, this paper examines letters by and interviews with kinship caregivers in Poland. These two data sets present the problems faced by kinship caregivers of elderly persons and people with disabilities who are frequently left frustrated by their interactions the social services system and its gatekeepers. Therefore, the authors hope that this study will provide policymakers responsible for social policy in Poland with some useful insights and suggestions.



Anonymous. 2018. “Mama nieuleczalnie chorego Mikołaja o zakazie aborcji: tu chodzi o szacunek do życia. Mojego.” [Mom of terminally ill Mikołaj on abortion: it is about respecting life. My life]. Gazeta Wyborcza, March 26. Retrieved November 9, 2018 (http://www.edziecko.pl/rodzice/7,79318,23192328,mama-nieuleczalnie-chorego-mikolaja-o-zakazie-aborcji-tu-chodzi.html).

Asystent Osoby Niepełnosprawnej. 2013. Warunki realizacji usług [Conditions of service delivery]. Asystent Osoby Niepełnosprawnej website, July 6. Retrieved March 18, 2019 (http://www.asystent.warszawa.pl/index.php/jak-sie-zglosic/warunki-realizacji-uslug).

Baker, Paul, and Tony McEnery. 2014. “‘Find the Doctors of Death.’ Press Representations of Foreign Doctors Working in the NHS, a Corpus Based Approach.” Pp. 465-480 in The Discourse Reader, 3rd edited by A. Jaworski and N. Coupland. London & New York: Routledge.

Dz.U. 2018 poz. 1497. ISAP. Retrieved October 8, 2018 (http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20180001497).

Ewa. 2018. „W spadku’ dostałam niepełnosprawną siostrę. Zrobię wszystko, aby urodzić zdrowe dzieci” [I “inherited” a disabled sister. I will do anything to have healthy children]. Gazeta Wyborcza, March 26, 2018. Retrieved November 9, 2018 (http://www.edziecko.pl/rodzice/7,163271,23220207,kosciol-nigdy-nie-zainteresowal-siesytuacjaniepelnosprawnych.html).

Foner, Nancy. 1995. The Caregiving Dilemma. Work in an American Nursing Home. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Gal, Susan and Gail Kligman. 2000. The Politics of Gender after Socialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Giddens, Anthony. 2012. Socjologia [Sociology]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

Glass, Christy, and Eva Fodor. 2007. “From Public to Private Maternalism? Gender and Welfare in Poland and Hungary after 1989.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 14(3):323-350.

Grochmal-Bach, Bożena. 2007. Cierpienie osób z otępieniem typu Alzheimera: podejście terapeutyczne [Suffering of people with Alzheimer dementia: a therapeutic approach]. Cracow: Wyższa Szkoła Filozoficzno-Pedagogiczna „Ignatianum”.

Jabłonowska, Kamila. 2017. “To skandal, że kobieta zamykana w domu z niepełnosprawnym dzieckiem nie może dorobić” [It’s an outrage that a woman locked at home with a disabled child can’t make extra money]. Elbląski Dziennik Internetowy,

September 20. Retrieved March 16, 2018 (https://www.info.elblag.pl/31,51580,To-skandal-ze-kobieta-zamykana-w-domu-z-niepelnosprawnym-dzieckiem-nie-moze-dorobic.html).

Karta Praw Osób Niepełnosprawnych [Charter of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities]. 1997. Monitor Polski 50:970-971. Retrieved March 19, 2019 (http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WMP19970500475/O/M19970475.pdf).

Klukowska, Katarzyna. 2017. “Zasiłki dla opiekunów osób niepełnosprawnych” [Benefits for caregivers of disabled people]. Gazeta Wyborcza, November 29. Retrieved February 26, 2018 (http://wyborcza.biz/biznes/7,147582,22712009,zasilki-dla-opiekunow-osob-niepelnosprawnych.html?disableRedirects=true).

Kowalska, Natalia. 2018. “Oddawanie głosu: o prawach i proteście osób z niepełnosprawnościami” [Giving the voice back: about rights and protest of people with disabilities]. Pp. 79-94 in Niepełnosprawność i społeczeństwo. Performatywna siła protestu [Disability and society. Performative power of protest], edited by E. Godlewska-Byliniak and J. Lipko-Konieczna. Warsaw: Fundacja Teatr 21 & Biennale Warszawa.

Lewandowska, Monika. 2018. “Oczekuję z niecierpliwością na odpowiedź od Kai Godek” [I am waiting impatiently for an answer from Kaja Godek]. Gazeta Wyborcza, March 26. Retrieved November 9, 2018 (http://wyborcza.pl/7,95891,23192415,oczekuje-z-niecierpliwoscia-na-odpowiedz-od-kai-godek.html).

Lipko-Konieczna, Justyna. 2018. “Niepełnosprawność w polu władzy. Zaproszenie do performowania” [Disability in the field of power. Invitation to performing]. Pp. 99-113 in Niepełnosprawność i społeczeństwo. Performatywna siła protestu [Disability and society. Performative power of protest], edited by E. Godlewska-Byliniak and J. Lipko-Konieczna. Warsaw: Fundacja Teatr 21 & Biennale Warszawa.

Mielczarek, Andrzej. 2010. Człowiek stary w domu pomocy społecznej: z perspektywy polityki społecznej i pracy socjalnej [An elderly person in a nursing home: the social policy and social work perspective]. Toruń: Wydawnictwo Edukacyjne Akapit.

Mladenov, Teodor. 2017. “From State Socialist to Neoliberal Productivism: Disability Policy and Invalidation of Disabled People in the Postsocialist Region.” Critical Sociology 43(7-8): 1109-1123.

Pikuła, Norbert. 2011. Etos starości w aspekcie społecznym: gerontologia dla pracowników socjalnych [The ethos of old age and its social aspect: gerontology for social workers]. Cracow: Wydawnictwo WAM.

Priestley, Mark. 2007. “In Search of European Disability Policy: Between National and Global.” Alter 1(1):61-74.

Próchniewicz, Dorota. 2015. “Asystent, czyli kto?” [Assistant, that is who?]. Niepełnosprawni website, March 15. Retrieved March 19, 2019 (http://www.niepelnosprawni.pl/ledge/x/251351).

Savage, Sally and Nicole Carvill. 2009. “The Relationship Between Undertaking an Informal Caring Role and Social Exclusion.” Pp. 87-95 in Theorising Social Exclusion, edited by A. Taket, B. R. Crisp, A. Nevill, G. Lamaro, M. Graham, and S. Barter-Godfrey. New York: Routledge.

Sekułowicz, Małgorzata. 1998. “Problematyka funkcjonowania rodzin dzieci niepełnosprawnych.” [Problems of Functioning of Families of Children with Disabilities] Teraźniejszość - Człowiek - Edukacja 10(1): 61-82.

Stacey, Clare. 2011. The Caring Self. The Work Experiences of Home Care Aides. Ithaca, NY and London: Cornell University Press.

Szatur-Jaworska, Barbara, Piotr Błędowski, and Małgorzata Dzięgielewska. 2006. Podstawy gerontologii społecznej [Basis of social gerontology]. Warsaw: Oficyna Wydawnicza Aspra-Jr.

Woźniak, Zbigniew. 2008. Niepełnosprawność i niepełnosprawni w polityce społecznej. Społeczny kontekst medycznego problemu [Disability and the disabled in social policy. Social context of the medical problem]. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo SWPS Academica.

Zięba-Kołodziej, Beata. 2014. „Różnorodność przeżyć, jednorodność cierpienia – o problemach opieki w warunkach domowych nad osobami starszymi” [Diversity of experiences, uniformity of suffering – about problems of home care for the elderly]. in Historyczno-społeczne aspekty starzenia się i starości: praca zbiorowa [Historical and social aspects of aging and old age: collective work], edited by M. Stawiak-Ososińska and A. Szplit. Kielce, Włocławek: Agencja Reklamowa TOP-Drukarnia Cyfrowa Format.

Zych, Adam A. 2010. Leksykon gerontologii, hasło: dom pomocy społecznej [A lexicon of gerontology, entry: nursing home]. Cracow: Oficyna Wydawnicza Impuls.

Żebrowski, Paweł. 2019. “RPO apeluje o stworzenie programu wsparcia dla opiekunów osób niepełnosprawnych” [Ombudsman’s call to create support program for caregivers of disabled people]. Prawo.pl, February 28. Retrieved October 1, 2019 (https://www.prawo.pl/kadry/potrzebny-program-wsparcia-dla-opiekunow-osob-starszych-i,377850.html).

Manuscript authors are responsible for obtaining copyright permissions for any copyrighted materials included within manuscripts. The authors must provide permission letters, when appropriate, to the Society Register Editors.

In addition, all published papers in Society Register are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Unported License.

1.1 The Author hereby warrants that he/she is the owner of all the copyright and other intellectual property rights in the Work and that, within the scope of the present Agreement, the paper does not infringe the  legal rights of another person. The owner of the copyright work also warrants that he/she is the sole and original creator thereof and that is not bound by any legal constraints in regard to the use or sale of the work.

1.2. The Publisher warrants that is the owner of the PRESSto platform for open access journals, hereinafter referred to as the PRESSto Platform.

2. The Author grants the Publisher non-exclusive and free of charge license to unlimited use worldwide over an unspecified period of time in the following areas of exploitation:

2.1. production of multiple copies of the Work produced according to the specific application of a given technology, including  printing, reproduction of graphics through mechanical or electrical means (reprography) and digital technology;

2.2. marketing authorisation, loan or lease of the original or copies thereof;

2.3. public performance, public performance in the broadcast, video screening, media enhancements as well as broadcasting and rebroadcasting,  made available to the public in such a way that members of the public may access the Work from a place and at a time individually chosen by them;

2.4. inclusion of the Work into a collective work (i.e. with a number of contributions);

2.5. inclusion of the Work in the electronic version to be offered on an electronic platform, or any other conceivable introduction of the Work in its electronic version to the Internet;

2.6. dissemination of electronic versions of  the Work in its electronic version online, in a collective work or independently;

2.7. making the Work in the electronic version available to the public in such a way that members of the public may access the Work from a place and at a time individually chosen by them, in particular by making it accessible via the Internet, Intranet, Extranet;

2.8. making the Work available according to appropriate license pattern CC BY-NC 4.0 as well as another language version of this license or any later version published by Creative Commons.

3. The Author grants the Publisher permission to reproduce a single copy (print or download) and royalty-free use and disposal of rights to compilations of the Work and these compilations.

4. The  Author grants the Publisher permission to send metadata files related to the Work, including to commercial and non-commercial journal-indexing databases.

5. The Author represents that, on the basis of the license granted in the present Agreement, the Publisher is entitled and obliged to:

5.1.  allow third parties to obtain further licenses (sublicenses) to the Work and to other materials, including derivatives thereof or compilations made, based on or including the Work, whereas the provisions of such sub-licenses will be the same as with the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Creative Commons sub-license or another language version of this license, or any later version of this license published by Creative Commons;

5.2. make the Work available to the public in such a way that members of the public may access the Work from a place and at a time individually chosen by them, without any technological constraints;

5.3. appropriately inform members of the public to whom the Work is to be made available about sublicenses in such a way as to ensure that all parties are properly informed (appropriate informing messages).

6. Because of the royalty-free provision of services of the Author (resulting from the scope of obligations stipulated in the present Agreement), the Author shall not be entitled to any author’s fee due and payable on the part of the Publisher (no fee or royalty is payable by the Publisher to the Author).

7.1. In the case of third party claims or actions for indemnity against the Publisher owing to any infractions related to any form of infringement of intellectual property rights protection, including copyright infringements, the Author is obliged to take all possible measures necessary to protect against these claims and, when as a result of legal action, the Publisher, or any third party licensed by the Publisher to use the Work, will have to abandon using the Work in its entirety or in part or, following a court ruling in a legal challenge, to pay damages to a third party, whatever the legal basis

7.2. The Author will immediately inform the Publisher about any damage claims related to intellectual property infringements, including the author’s proprietary rights pertaining to a copyrighted work, filed against the Author. of liability, the Author is obliged to redress the damage resulting from claims made by third party, including costs and expenditures incurred in the process.

7.3. To all matters not settled herein provisions of the Polish Civil Code and the Polish Copyright and Related Rights Act shall apply. 


Download data is not yet available.