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Developing community in care homes through a relationship-centred approach


Dr Christine Brown Wilson
Lecturer in Continuing Care University of Manchester School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work University Place Oxford Road Manchester M13 9PL


Within the literature, the formation of therapeutic relationships between professionals, older people and others significant to them in their lives has been considered as central to current care philosophies. Furthermore, 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. This paper reports part of a wider study that explored relationships between residents, families and staff. The aim of this paper is to contribute to an understanding of the factors that may be significant in the formation of relationships in care homes, and how this may support the development of community. Three case studies of care homes were undertaken using a constructivist approach. Constructivist methodology seeks to share multiple perceptions between participants with the aim of creating a joint construction. This process supported the development of shared meanings as views and ideas were shared between participants using interviews, participant observation and focus groups. The key factors influencing relationships that emerged were leadership, continuity of staff, personal philosophy of staff and contribution of residents and families. This paper suggests that considering how the style of leadership influences the organisation of care may be a useful starting point in developing community within care homes.