Journal Article

Developing New Understandings of Independence and Autonomy in the Personalised Relationship

Janet Leece and Sheila Peace

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 6, pages 1847-1865
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Developing New Understandings of Independence and Autonomy in the Personalised Relationship

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The personalisation of adult social care has the potential to create support that is individualised, and it is the reality of this support relationship that forms the basis of this article. To date, there have been few studies that focus on the association between care users and their workers. Here, we consider research from a Ph.D. study that allows for comparison between two sets of relationships: between disabled adults and homecare workers employed by a local authority, and between disabled adults using direct payments to employ their own personal assistants. The research pays attention to the meanings attached to the concepts of independence and autonomy, with a model of autonomy applied to aid clarity and develop our understanding of complexities in support relationships. The research uses a grounded theory approach with qualitative interviews of matched samples of respondents, providing new evidence about the personalised relationship. Based on the research, we argue that direct employment of support workers appears to facilitate greater autonomy for disabled adults than traditional homecare relationships. However, the research goes on to suggest that greater autonomy for disabled adults may have a downside for support workers.

Keywords: Personalisation; autonomy; independence; care relationships; direct payments; personal assistants; homecare

Journal Article.  7375 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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