Understanding complex trajectories in health and social care provision


Davina Allen,
Nursing, Health and Social Care Research Centre, School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, University of Wales College of Medicine, 4th Floor, Eastgate House, Cardiff, CF24 0ABe-mail: allenda@cf.ac.uk


Ensuring collaboration between health and social care providers is a well-established policy concern in most developed countries. Thus far, however, this has proved to be a frustratingly elusive goal. Despite the growing body of empirical work devoted to this issue, social scientific theorising on the management of complex caring trajectories remains under-developed. This paper is an attempt to begin to address this gap in the literature. Drawing on Strauss et al.'s (1985) writings on illness trajectories and Elias's (1978) game model, we offer a framework – centred on the notion of a caring trajectory game – that can assist understanding of the linkages between individual trajectories of care and broader health and social care systems. It is only when we have developed a more theoretically sophisticated understanding of this relationship that we can begin to explain why trajectories of care take the course that they do. The framework arises from our analysis of eight ethnographic case studies of adults undergoing rehabilitation from a first acute stroke. In this paper we illustrate its utility by reference to one specific case: Edward.