Remembering My Hat

21st November 2009

Out now

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 22:03
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From the blurb:

The editors provide a thought-provoking resource for anyone concerned with sexuality and gender identity in health and social care settings. Drawing on current research and debates, the contributors explore some of the tensions between the different ways in which sexuality is understood and experienced.

A focus of the book is on how categories like ‘lesbian’, ‘gay’, ‘bisexual’, and ‘trans’ shape everyday practice and service use. It looks at the circumstances in which people choose to describe themselves with these identity labels and the situations in which they reject or feel constrained by them. A particular feature of the book is its combination of a nuanced understanding of the nature of sexual identities with practice-relevant and grounded examples taken from health and social care settings, with a Scottish focus.

Intended primarily for a practitioner audience and for those studying in the field of health and social care this volume will also interest academics and an international audience because of its distinctive theoretical sophistication about the nature of sexual identities.

From one of the editors/authors:

And a bargainaceous £12.33 on Amazon

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3rd November 2009

When people are using care services

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 12:18
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The other day in the K319 course team meeting we were talking again about the vexed question of involving service users in course production.

This is an old chestnut, which I won’t go into here (headlines – we want to do it, but how do you do it in a way which is not tokenistic yet is compatible with OU timeframes and budgets, and more fundamentallly, what do we mean by ‘service user’? Who counts as a service user? Are ‘expert’ or politicised service users the same as ‘ordinary’ service users? (No) What difference does that difference make? etc.). We didn’t resolve the issue, of course, but we had an interesting conversation about terminology.

We talked about the pitfalls of the very phrase ‘service user’. It’s a key concept in health and social care circles, especially now there’ s so much (at least lip service) effort to make care more driven by service users’ priorities and needs. We all talk about service users the whole time.

Nearly everyone is a service user to some extent – most of us go to the doctors occasionally, for example. But the phrase ‘service user’ tends to make you think of ‘an older person’, a wheelchair user, a person with learning difficulties, or whatever. It makes services users someone different from ‘us’ – it Otherises them.  ‘We’ are the professionals, the ‘normal’ people, the mainstream – ‘service users’ are the object (or subject) of our studies/policies/services.

People who use care services a lot, and whose quality of life, or even life itself, crucially depends on those services may have very different experiences of care from people who use services only more casually. And that greater knowledge and experience of being on the receiving end of care needs to be heard and acted on.

But the handy shorthand phrase ‘service user’ is quite problematic in tending to create a false ‘us’ and ‘them’ dichotomy, even if you are aware of these issues as you use it. I’m not suggesting we can abandon it altogether (I see ‘service users’ is one of my tags, which I am cheerfully going to attatch to this post) but I’m going to have a go at avoiding using it when I can. In the K319 course team we came up with the formulation  ‘when people are using care services’, which won’t cover all grammatical situations, but does a nice job of emphasising the fact that we are fundamentally talking about people and that service use is a temporal state, not an essential identity[1]

[1] Although, some people who have been involved in the politicised service user movement do identify as ‘service users’. While recognising the political utility, and sometimes necessity, of essentialised identity labels, I’d want to challenge the essentialism of that sort of ‘us’ and ‘them’ too. It’s a continuum, like most things.

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