Care and Well-being in Old Age

Investigating older people’s involvement with an ethic of care

by Lizzie Ward (University of Brighton), Beatrice Gahagan (Age UK Brighton and Hove), Marian Barnes (University of Brighton)

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This book seeks to understand what well-being means to older people, and to influence the practice of those who work with older people.

Drawing from a broad body of work, this volume challenges normative assumptions of ‘successful’ ageing, particularly as seen through neo-liberal policy constructions of ‘active ageing’. Applying insights of feminist ethics of care, it develops a relational ontology that challenges neo-liberal assumptions of autonomous individualism. Central to the development of an ethical perspective built around the significance of care in all our lives is the understanding that humans are relational beings. Our survival as infants is dependent on the care we receive from others. And for all of us, in particular in older age, there are times when illness, emotional or physical frailty mean that we need the care of others to enable us to deal with everyday life.

The book documents original, UK research council-funded research, among academic researchers and an NGO collaborator with a shared commitment to the value of working with older people. Theoretically, it draws from and contributes to literature on critical gerontology which seeks to understand how experiences of ageing are shaped by social, economic, cultural and political contexts. The book also reflects on the applications of its insights to social care practice. It aspires to enable practitioners to reflect on personal aspects of ageing and care and to bridge the gap between the personal and the professional.

Chapter 1 – The Personal and Public Challenges of Old Age
Chapter 2 – Care Ethics: a relational approach to enabling a good old age.
Chapter 3 – Deliberating and Working with Older People.
Chapter 4 - Researching and influencing practice with older people and practitioners
Chapter 5 – What does well-being mean to older people.
Chapter 6 - Being well enough in old age
Chapter 7 – Challenging choice. Implications for policy and practice.
Chapter 8 –The personal, the political and the professional.

Marian Barnes is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at the University of Brighton. Now retired, her research has focussed on care, ageing and mental health. She is well known for her use of participatory research methods and studies of user involvement and collective action by service users. She has published widely and her books include: ‘Taking Over the Asylum: empowerment and mental health’ (2001, with Ric Bowl, Palgrave), and ‘Care in Everyday Life’ (2012, Policy Press).

Beatrice Gahagan is Health and Wellbeing Development Manager at Age UK Brighton and Hove where she has worked for the last 20 years. Her work has centred on developing and running services for older people and in building a strong culture and value base of person-centred practice. During the last 9 years she has worked with her research colleagues to develop collaborative research work involving older people. She is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British psychological society and has a D Phil focussed on human consciousness and nature.

Lizzie Ward is a senior research fellow in the School of Applied Social Science at the University of Brighton. Lizzie is a qualitative researcher and her research interests include: age and ageing, care ethics, participatory research and experiential knowledge, gender and feminist methodologies. She works in the field of community-based participatory research and has a particular interest in co-production and working with older people as co-researchers. She has published in the areas of applying care ethics to research practice and social care practice with older people.

Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Care and Well-being in Old Age
Book Subtitle
Investigating older people’s involvement with an ethic of care
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Publication date
February 2018