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“Becoming people to each other”: How practice and meaning intersect in the delivery of aged care and disability support

Citation

Banks, S, 'Becoming people to each other': How practice and meaning intersect in the delivery of aged care and disability support (2016) [PhD]

Abstract

This Australian research investigates how practice and meanings of care intersect in the delivery of support to people with disability and the frail aged. There is ambivalence surrounding ‘care’ in the literatures on ageing and disability: constructions of care differ between these fields. In the field of ageing, care tends to be understood as love and altruism, an extension of the self to give ease to another. For disabled people, care is associated with control, institutionalisation, cruelty, and abuse. Despite these differences, found in the literature, the provider organisations, physical practices, and even the individual workers in aged care and disability support frequently overlap. Furthermore, workers and clients from both fields share a sometimes stigmatised position, hidden in backstage settings, engaged in ‘dirty’ work, and socially and economically marginalised. The voices of workers are rare in the literature, as are studies that combine an empirical focus on meaning and practice.

This study used interviews, observations and visual methods with aged care and disability support workers, and with clients. Participants worked or lived in residential facilities, in group and supported accommodation and in private houses. The thematic analysis explored presentation of self, worker and client practices, perceptions of the other and how these elements coalesce in the service encounter. The co-creation of a competent self was revealed as being central to the meaning and practice of care with emotion work enabling both participants to find ways to co-produce one another’s presentation of self. Such co-creation is only possible when the actors (workers and clients) recognise one another on the levels of love, rights and solidarity, and relies on emotion work. An ideal encounter between a support worker and a disabled person creates the possibility of (mutual) recognition. But interactions can also undermine individuals’ presentation of self and damage opportunities to experience recognition. I argue that all levels of recognition—love, rights and solidarity—must be present in a support interaction in order for the participants to experience enabling and satisfying working relationships. Further, recognition must be mutual. The research findings have implications for the wellbeing of workers and clients, the responsibilities of community and facility provider organisations, for future training of workers, and for policy.

Item Details

Item Type:PhD
Keywords:disability support, aged care, emotion work, recognition theory
Research Division:Medical and Health Sciences
Research Group:Public Health and Health Services
Research Field:Aged Health Care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Health and Support Services
Objective Field:Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified
Author:Banks, S (Ms Susan Banks)
ID Code:112134
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2016-10-27
Last Modified:2016-11-25
Downloads:0

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