Solihull held its first Knowledge Exchange on 13 November 2017. The goals of the event were to:
- Understand older people’s experiences of self-funding personal care.
- Develop theoretical understanding of the ethical issues involved in self-funded care.
- Engage with older people, practitioners, health and care services’ commissioners and providers to transform understanding of self-funded care and produce accessible outputs to impact policy and practice.
Drawing on the local knowledge and networks of co-researchers, our community partner Age UK Solihull, and the academic researchers Denise and Llinos, we found over 20 people from the statutory, private and voluntary sectors in Solihull who shared our interest in the experiences of older people who pay for their own care at home. These people have now agreed to be the final segment of our Research Team, participating in the Knowledge Exchange events which are planned to take place throughout the course of the project.
Tula Brannelly joined the group to lead us through the morning, ensuring that we covered the work we planned to undertake and that everyone had their voice heard. Following introductions, Tula set out what we mean by ‘ethics of care’, drawing on the work of the American academic Joan Tronto. Tronto suggests that care can be viewed as a set of principles:
- Attentiveness: caring about
- Responsibility: caring for
- Competence: care giving
- Responsiveness: care receiving
- Caring with: solidarity
People then worked in small groups to discuss what ‘care’ meant to them. Post-it notes were used to record contributions, and Tula ordered these under the ‘ethics of care’ headings. This provided a basis for a further discussion amongst the whole group about what we mean by ‘care’. The picture below is a summary of what was said: the larger the text, the more often the word was used.
Following this, people were organised into different small groups to discuss case studies based on circumstances that people needing to arrange and pay for their own care may face. Again, both the group discussions and the feedback to others generated exchanges in views and information. Importantly, these exchanges highlighted areas of common knowledge and shared experiences, but also areas where the amount people knew about a certain matter, or even what people believed to be the facts of a matter, varied significantly.
This was very much a first step towards achieving our goals of understanding older people’s experiences of self-funding personal care. The event led to older people, practitioners, commissioners and providers engaging with each other, with some people meeting up for the first time. As a result of this, difficult issues were discussed openly, and there were honest discussions about practices which can be confusing, stressful and even damaging for older people. Knowledge Exchange events will be held every 6 months throughout the course of the project, and we look forward to these relationships strengthening.