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Variability as a Source of Stability: Studying Routines in the Elderly Home Care setting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
2008 (English)In: Human Relations, ISSN 0018-7267, E-ISSN 1741-282X, Vol. 61, no 11, 1617-1644 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - Looks at the work of care workers who support elderly people who remain in their own homes, examining the extent to which they follow the routines set out in the care plans and the extent to which they varied these.

Design/methodology/approach - Presents case studies of two Swedish home-care providers, drawing on interviews with care managers and participant observation of visits of care workers to older people's homes. Assesses the reasons for the variation in the way that the care workers carried out their work and the impact of this variability on the overall quality of the service.

Findings - Identifies the care plans as being sources of consistency and also variation as they could not cover all the situations that the care workers met when they visited the older people. Reports that the care workers were guided as much by what they feel was right in the individual circumstances as by the official care plans. Notes that this meant that care worker who were committed to their job offered more support than the care plan required whereas those who disliked the job offered less. Sees this as underlining the emotional-ethical dimension of this type of work and, consequently, the difficulty of predicting and controlling performance. Research limitations/ implications - Describes the research methods.

Originality/value - Examines the factors that affect how routines are carried out.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 61, no 11, 1617-1644 p.
Keyword [en]
Employee Attitudes, Job Design, Performance Management, Service Quality, Social Care, Sweden
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24826ISI: 000259957800005OAI: diva2:198387
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7487Available from: 2008-05-06 Created: 2008-05-06 Last updated: 2011-04-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Technology as an extension of the human body: Exploring the potential role of technology in an elderly home care setting
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Technology as an extension of the human body: Exploring the potential role of technology in an elderly home care setting
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present thesis explores the potential role and implications of technology in elderly care from the users’ perspective. This exploration is undertaken in terms of five empirical studies of a telehealth project and a meta-analysis of their contributions. An important insight emerging from this work is the need to rethink the human subject as a body, rather than as a mere mind using technology. The thesis draws on phenomenology to reconceptualize the user of technology, and on this basis, to theorize about the potential role and implications of technology in care. It concludes that, in combination with humans that integrate technology with their other sensory and emotional capacities, technology can produce affect. The findings indicate that technology can contribute to senior citizens feeling safe, cared for and thereby less isolated. The findings further demonstrate that, because of the perceptual capacity gained from technology, the care workers become aware of new health problems that urgently call for their sensory and emotional responsiveness.

On this ground, the thesis challenges the determinist view that technology threatens the essentially ‘human’ aspect; rather, it concludes that feeling and other bodily resources are fundamental in the use of technology. Indeed, technology activates such ‘human’ capabilities.

Hence, technology plays a role as a complement for rather than as a replacement of care workers. It increases their work burden by informing them about new needs. This may improve care quality but at an increased cost, which is relevant from a practical perspective. At a more general level, the thesis challenges the dualist legacies in mainstream management research that have sought to divorce mind form body, nature from culture and reason from emotion. It can therefore contribute to broader theoretical developments and fuel existing debates beyond the care setting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Företagsekonomiska institutionen, 2008. 190 p.
care, telehealth, information technology, physicality, materiality, Merleau-Ponty, body, emotion, routines, variability, surveillance, privacy, service evaluation, service innovation, emergence, learning
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-7487 (URN)978-91-7155-626-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-06-16, Philipssalen, hus 3, Kräftriket, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2008-05-06 Created: 2008-05-06Bibliographically approved

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