1 Entering the world of social care
To give you an understanding of why people need social care and how it works, we begin with a case study. This is Ann and Angus’s story:
Activity 1 Getting to know Ann, Angus and their family
To bring the subject of family care to life, you are about to listen to a case study in the form of an audio drama. This will bring out issues vividly – you’ll hear tensions mounting and be able to imagine the scenes for yourself. The people you will hear are actors but what happens is based on real lives.
Task 1 An incident on the stairs
The aim of this first part of the activity is to get yourself involved in the complexity of daily life in Ann and Angus’s family. Families provide the setting for many key life processes, so people’s experiences of caring and being cared for are always interwoven with other important strands of family life.
Listen to Audio 1. After listening, make notes in answer to the following questions:
- What are the needs of each family member during the audio clip?
- What is each family member feeling during the audio clip?
- Are they happy?
Transcript: Audio 1 Incident on the stairs
- Angus needs to get to the toilet. Needs physical help getting upstairs. Needs understanding of the experiences and difficulties he faces. Needs moral support.
- Ann needs help with the physical task of supporting Angus. Needs moral support.
- Bob needs to be greeted, to relax after work, have his tea, then go off to play football.
- Zoe needs to be greeted – to talk about implications of failing English – have tea.
- Angus feels frightened by sudden loss of strength or control and by his fall. Bitter about Parkinson’s. Anxious to get to the toilet. Seems hostile to Bob. Doesn’t want help from him.
- Ann feels frightened about Angus’s fall. Anxious not to be distracted from helping him. Cross that Bob prioritises football. Frustrated by Zoe’s tantrum.
- Bob feels frustrated that Ann continues to run such risks helping Angus. Anxious about getting to football.
- Zoe feels anxious about failure and what her parents will think. Angry about being ignored.
It seems that no one in the family is happy, at least not at this point. This two minute insight into the family’s life demonstrates both the responsibility of caring and the negative effects it can have on people’s lives.
Now do Task 2.
Task 2 What is happening to Ann’s life?
The next audio is in two parts. In the first, the family is in the living room. In the second part, Ann meets her friend Cheryl in a pub.
Listen to Audio 2 and make notes in answer to the following questions:
- What are the sources of tension between the family members?
- What is Cheryl trying to achieve?
- What is Ann’s response to Cheryl?
Transcript: Audio 2 Tensions round the television – Cheryl makes Ann think
|Who and what is annoying them?||Underlying reasons|
|Zoe||Annoyed with Angus for having the television on so loud while she is doing homework – also irritated that his needs get priority.||Maybe she’s worried about school failures and wants help with homework? Is she upset that Angus’s needs seem to dominate family life, and that her mother seems preoccupied by caring duties?|
|Bob||Wants to watch football – growing irritation at Angus assuming control of television – annoyed at being expected to discipline Zoe – angered by Angus asserting ownership and suggesting he moves out.||Bob has to live in his father-in-law’s house on Angus’s terms because Ann is committed to caring for him. Does he feel that if he isn’t allowed to be ‘the man’ in his own home, why take responsibility for Zoe’s discipline?|
|Ann||The arguing gets to her – she turns on Zoe – then on Bob – then starts vacuum cleaning in frustration – annoyed with them all for not getting on together.||Does she feel guilty for spending less time with Zoe and Bob than she’d like – and responsible for their frustrations with Angus? Does she worry that things are falling apart?|
|Angus||Has few enough remaining pleasures – can’t even watch his own television in peace – inadequate son-in-law always wants to watch football and tries to throw his weight around.||Is Angus in pain? Does he find company tiring and confusing – especially young people like Zoe? Is he worried Bob will lure Ann away and leave him helpless? Has he always thought Ann wasted herself on Bob?|
These are only ideas – after all, it’s a fictitious case study, so anything goes. The point is to think about how much goes on below the surface of family life.
Cheryl seems worried that Ann is letting herself be ground down by her sense of duty to Angus and her promise to her mother. Cheryl wants Ann to recognise that she is a carer and needs support.
Ann resists seeing herself as a carer. She sees what she is doing as fairly normal, and thinks she ought to be able to cope.