Gender relations in a dementia care setting.

Ward, Richard (2004) Gender relations in a dementia care setting. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This study has been motivated by the need to better understand gender relations in dementia care. Across time and place, gender has been shown to be a fundamental relationship of social organisation. As such, it is hypothesised that gender is likely to have a similarly patterning influence upon relations in residential dementia care. It is argued there is a need to consider the person with dementia as a gendered (and sexual) individual. The study considers the ways that gender produces experiences of a care setting, and how gender is configured by the discourses and practices that characterise dementia care. A dementia care setting also provides a standpoint from which to problematise gender as a widely used but politically sensitive discursive category. The study has been undertaken within the context of a wider investigation of communication and dementia care: Alzheimer's type dementia: Communication Patterns and their Consequences for Effective Care (CPCEC). The research was carried out exclusively within care facilities owned and run by Jewish Care, a voluntary sector organisation offering care and support to the Jewish community. The study takes an exploratory approach to gender relations and is organised according to two main themes. In the first section, attention is paid to hierarchies of identity. A brief review of the historical and socio-political context is offered in order to trace certain themes and key constructions in welfare policy and provision from this wider context to the local settings of the care homes under investigation. It is argued that identity and social experience underpin relationships to a hegemonic perspective in care settings for both residents and staff. The second section is organised according to the theme of interactions. The study makes a contribution to an understanding of care as a situated practice. Drawing upon video data, the dynamic quality of care is underscored and this provides a basis for a conceptualisation of care as an interactive social activity. Gender's connections to other aspects of identity and social experience are also encompassed as another form of interaction. Particular consideration is given to the interconnectedness of gender and sexuality and it is shown that gender shapes the interpretation of sexual expression within dementia care. The dearth of existing research into gender relations and dementia care makes this a unique piece of research, which has more than local implications. Rather, it fills a silence in this area, on both a theoretical and practical level, and promotes both knowledge (theory) and methodological matters to a wide audience. The study holds relevance to formal care settings and similar establishments regarding gender and social relations and beyond, as it adds yet another piece to the 'puzzle' of gender relations in society.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Research Areas:Masters and Doctorates > Theses
Middlesex University Schools and Centres > School of Health and Education > Health & Education
ID Code:6728
Deposited On:22 Nov 2010 14:28
Last Modified:19 Jul 2014 21:28

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