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Int J Older People Nurs. 2008 Dec;3(4):274-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2008.00140.x.

Using relationships to develop practice that values the contribution of older people, families and staff.

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Lecturer in Continuing Care, University of Manchester, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, Manchester, UK.


Relationships between staff, residents and their families have emerged within the literature as fundamental to the experiences of life within the community of a care home. While there is consensus in the literature that such relationships are central to caring processes, there is a dearth of studies that have explained how different factors contribute to the formation of relationships. The research reported here aims to describe the nature of relationships and develop an interpretive framework to understand how relationships influence the experience of residents, families and staff in care homes. This paper is based on the findings from a constructivist inquiry. Data were collected in three care homes using participant observation, interviews and focus groups with older people, families and staff. Constructivist methodology seeks to share multiple perceptions between participants with the aim of creating a joint construction. This process, known as the hermeneutic dialectic supported the development of shared meanings as views and ideas were shared between participants. The findings suggested that three types of relationships are developed within care homes: pragmatic; personal and responsive and reciprocal. These relationships are influenced by a range of factors that include leadership, team working and the contributions made by residents, families and staff.

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