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About this book

This book focuses on the relationship between the media and those who work as paid care assistants in care homes in Britain. It explores this relationship in terms of the contemporary cultural and personal understandings of care work and care homes that have developed as the role has emerged as increasingly socially and economically significant in society. Three strands of analysis are integrated: an examination of the representations of paid care workers in the British media; the experiences of current and former care workers; and the autoethnographic reflections of the authors who have experiences of working as care assistants. The book offers a rich contextual and experiential account of the responsibilities, challenges, and emotions of care work in British society. Grist and Jennings make a case for the need to better value and more accurately represent care work in contemporary media accounts.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The introduction explores the rationale for this book: to situate the voices of care workers at the centre of research on British care homes. It argues that bringing together media and ageing studies perspectives can challenge representations of care work and care homes. It explores the approach to research design and positions the combination of multiple qualitative methods as an innovative approach to media, ageing and care home studies. The chapter outlines the structure of the book and concludes by highlighting that the way carers and care homes are thought about and represented must urgently evolve if we are to ensure a better quality of care for older people in care homes in Britain and to provide better support for those who ‘do’ care.
Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings

Chapter 2. Autoethnographies of Care

Abstract
This chapter presents two autoethnographies of care which examine care work by drawing on complementary and contrasting experiences separated by nearly 20 years. The first autoethnography is written by Hannah Grist, an academic who worked as a care assistant for five years from 2010 to 2015. The second is written by Ros Jennings, now an academic and Professor of Ageing, Media and Culture, but who worked as a care assistant from 1987 to 1991. The autoethnographies explore issues surrounding training and role modelling, education and class, the lived impacts of media representations, and questions around time. Together these autoethnographies reveal the legacies, emotional and embodied, that we carry with us as a result of this work.
Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings

Chapter 3. Little More Than Fools and Monsters: Care Workers in the UK Media

Abstract
This chapter examines the principal ways that carers are represented in a range of media. Although not offering an exhaustive media scan, this chapter explores significant interventions and trends in the representation of UK care workers over the period pertinent to this book (1989–2019). The first section charts the representations of care workers in the news media and highlights that often they are portrayed in negative ways. It then explores television representations in Waiting for God, Grandpa’s Great Escape and the Panorama documentary Behind Closed Doors: Elderly Care Exposed, the latter proving to be an influential context for the experiences of the carers interviewed in Chap. 4. These are contextualised by two British produced films, Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. We argue that understandings of care work practices are tainted as a consequence of dominant media depictions.
Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings

Chapter 4. Conversations with Carers

Abstract
This chapter brings together the voices of current and former carers to further develop the intricate picture of care and care homes already offered in the book. It explores the ways carers think about themselves, their roles and those they care for, and examines carers’ perceptions of their representation in the British media. This chapter focuses on the most recurrent themes from our conversations with carers—motivations for becoming a care worker, understandings and experiences of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ care, imaginings of their own future needs for care and, finally, carers’ responses to media representations of the role and of the homes they work in.
Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings

Chapter 5. Concluding Thoughts

Abstract
This chapter argues that carers’ experiences of ‘doing’ care in the British care home environment are multiple and complex. It proposes that dominant modes of portrayal of carers and care homes in the British media as fools or monsters is detrimental to the value placed upon care work by society. It examines the importance of conceptualisations of time within care home cultures and adds to current understandings of the ‘cult of time’. It states that to improve the quality of care we must rethink questions of value and resource so that there is time to care. It highlights the relevance of the findings of this book for the future development of media training in and about care homes and offers areas for prospective research.
Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings

Backmatter

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