University of Tasmania
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\Becoming people to each other\" : how practice and meaning intersect in the delivery of aged care and disability support"

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:21 authored by Banks, SM
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‚ÄövÑvÆlove, rights and solidarity‚ÄövÑvÆmust 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.


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Copyright 2016 The author

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