Care relationships
Care relationships

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Care relationships

1.2.1 A different definition

Click to read the interview excerpt with Reg Martin [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Activity 2: A different definition

Timing: 0 hours 10 minutes

How was Glenda’s presentation of herself different from the previous home helps? Having read the interview with Reg answer the following questions.


  1. Glenda began by announcing her name rather than her job title. What difference would that make to the way the scene between the two is defined? Consider if it would be more likely to create a work or social scene.

  2. By opening with her name, Glenda presented herself to Reg as a person first and a home help second. She opened up a line of ordinary person-to-person communication, rather than speaking to him only through her formal role. Her ‘great big smile’ backed up this invitation.

  3. What were the next things Glenda said and did? How did they create a different kind of relationship with Reg?

  4. Glenda said such things as ‘I’ve come to do some shopping’, rather than asking, ‘What do you want me to buy for you?’ This is a more flexible way of defining the scene, because it leaves open who should decide what to buy. It offers scope to Reg to take on the ‘deciding’ role if he wants to, or pass it over to Glenda. Reg’s first reaction was that he ought to make a list, so she let him get on with it. But when he started getting into difficulties she offered to ‘have a look’. Then she made a few suggestions and Reg felt tremendously relieved. Gradually, after that, she took over a lot of the decision making about shopping, although she made a point of buying him ‘special’ things, which made Reg feel she was including him. Broadly she defined a scene in which she and Reg would sort out Reg’s needs together.

  5. How would you describe the scene she presented for herself and Reg to play? What was her role and what was Reg’s role?

  6. Subsequently, she played her role according to how well Reg was feeling. She did not define their relationship as purely functional with the roles fixed and formal. She left scope for Reg to change the definition of the scene according to his mood. Yet she was far from passive within the relationship. She took an active role in judging his needs. Beyond her helping work she also took time to sit down and chat at times. This extended the definition of the scenes they played out together, giving Reg a role as a person with a life and interest beyond his immediate illness and disabilities.

Key points

  • Your opening remarks tend to manoeuvre another person into a particular way of relating to you.

  • You can play a role either in a way that leaves the other person’s options open, or in a way that ‘closes them off’.


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