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Low status and invisible: An ethnographic study of practice and the meaning of care for workers delivering services to people with disability or who are frail due to age

RQ: How do care and meaning intersect for workers delivering services to people with disability or who are frail due to age?

Outline

My research is exploring the practice and meanings of care for workers providing services to people with disabilities and the frail elderly. The workers deliver personal support services (bathing, grooming, food preparation, social support and so forth) to people in their homes, whether private or group accommodation (group house, independent living unit or other supported accommodation, or residential facility). This sector of the health and social care labour force has received little attention, other than statistical. The statistical data shows that the need for workers in these roles is high and growing, that they are often older than the average working person in Australia, and that they are most often women. We know little, however, about how they see their role, how they see the people they work with, and themselves in that work. What meaning does the work give them? And how do their perceptions of the role and the recipients affect their practice? (more…)

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