• “Cautiously Optimistic” Older Parent-Carers of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities response to the Care Act 2014

      Gant, Valerie; Bates, Claire; University of Chester
      This paper discusses potential opportunities for best practice in the UK that may be brought about by the Care Act (2014). Carers in the UK were given new rights within this legislation with a focus on needs led assessment. The underpinning philosophy of the Care Act is to streamline previous legislation and offer a framework for carers and people in receipt of care, to enable a more personalised approach to care and support.
    • Commentary on "Older carers of people with learning disabilities: Their experiences with local authority assessment processes and personnel"

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester
      Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to provide a commentary on "Older carers of people with learning disabilities: their experiences with local authority assessment processes and personnel" written by Rachel Forrester-Jones. Design/methodology/approach - The commentary considers the experiences of older carers in the context of research, legislative and policy changes over the last 30+ years. Findings - The needs of older carers of adults with learning disabilities are well recognised within the (limited) literature. Less attention has been given to practical strategies to identify and support such carers or to their broader family context. Originality/value - This commentary highlights that assessors carrying out carers' needs assessments should consider whether adults with learning disabilities are providing care to their older relative. The recognition of possible mutual or reciprocal care needs to be acknowledged and appropriate support offered.
    • ‘It’s more than confusing our b’s and d’s’: a commentary on the lack of understanding of the needs of social work students who have dyslexia

      Gant, Valerie; Hewson, Michael; University of Chester
      Drawing on principles of auto-ethnography, this commentary offers for discussion reflections on a personal reaction to some of the struggles experienced when navigating the English social work placement landscape for a student who has a diagnosis (or label) of dyslexia/dyspraxia. Commenting on some of the challenges faced in order to try and survive the placement experience necessary to complete the programme, this account makes recommendations and suggestions for educators in university and in practice.
    • 'Reflections on a birthday': An auto-ethnographic account of caring for a child with a learning disability

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester (Sage, 2016-09-10)
      This commentary offers some of the author’s experiences of parenting a child with a severe learning disability and complex and challenging behaviours. Drawing on principles of auto-ethnography and critical reflection, the author considers issues of transition from children’s to adult social care services and the potential for support from a new piece of UK Legislation, the Care Act, 2014.
    • Retrospect and Prospect: What are the future possibilities in the Care Act (2014) for older parent-carers of adults with learning disabilities? A discussion Paper.

      Gant, Valerie; Bates, Claire; University of Chester; Edge Hill University (Journal of Health and Social Care Improvement, 2017-01)
      Building on this previous research and the practice background of both authors, this paper aims to identify and then explore potential new opportunities and possible challenges brought about by the introduction of the Care Act 2014 for older parent-carers of adults with learning disabilities. By considering some of the themes that had emerged in this earlier research, set within the then current legislative and political landscape (2006), this paper aims to provide a retrospective and prospective analysis of the legal and policy context within which service delivery to this group takes place, such as to orient thinking regarding the role and function of law and policy in relation to the delivery of services to this and, potentially, other carer-groupings. Plans for future research to develop further these areas will also be discussed.
    • Siblings of Adults with Learning Disabilities: An Empirical Study

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester (Social Work and Society, 2018-01-01)
      Adult siblings are frequently providers of care for their brother or sister with a learning disability* and many take on many levels of responsibility, which often lasts for decades. The majority of research focusing on siblings of people with learning disabilities comes from the perspective of those aged under 18. This paper draws on the work of Rawson (2012) and Pompeo (2009) to focus attention on adult siblings. This study, examined the relationships adult siblings have with their brother or sister with a learning disability. Fourteen participants were involved, in-depth interviews were conducted to gather data that was thematically analysed. The findings revealed that siblings want to be involved in the life of their brother or sister and to be seen as next of kin by professionals when their parents have died, but yet are unsure how best to approach this prospect. Based on these findings, implications for practitioners are discussed.
    • Social Work Students sharing practice learning experiences: Critical reflection as process and method.

      Walker, Jane; Gant, Valerie; University of Chester
      This paper offers a commentary regarding the centrality of critical reflection in social work before discussing a research project drawing on a sample of ten social work students as they approached the end of their social work training in one English university. The original intention of the research was to focus solely on students’ perceptions of critical reflection, but when using a more reflexive approach, we identified that participants utilised the focus groups as an opportunity to discuss their practice learning experiences per se before considering and discussing critical reflection. Most students were placed in child protection social work teams and discussed how they felt unprepared for such a fast-paced and stressful environment. Participants felt that the expectations some practitioners had of students were unrealistic, and not always commensurate with the Professional Capabilities Framework. Students highlighted the use of practice scenarios in developing their knowledge and skills particularly when considering their application of critical reflection. This study highlights the significance of adequate preparation for practice and argues for a more focused agenda for future research exploring the culture of learning, including those factors that inhibit students sharing their concerns as well as the training needs of educators
    • Social Work Through Collaborative Autoethnography

      Gant, Valerie; Cheatham, Lisa; DiVito, Hannah; Offei, Ebenezer; Williams, Gemma; Yatosenge, Nathalie; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2019-02-13)
      This paper discusses a research project involving 5 MA Social Work Students and 1 member of Social Work Academic Staff. Using narrative and taking a collaborative autoethnographical approach, this project highlights some of the feelings that students articulated following a 70 day placement experience. Findings include anxiety, powerlessness and frustration, together with growing confidence, recognition of their skills and a deeper understanding of the role of ‘self’ in social work. Raising issues of preparedness for practice placement, this paper has implications for both social work practice and social work education. Autoethnography (AE) is both a method of carrying out research and a methodology, specifically a qualitative methodology linked to ethnography and narrative inquiry. AE results in highly personalised narrative accounts of the researcher’s engagement with specific sociocultural contexts in the pursuit of knowing more about a phenomenon. Applying such a methodology to explore collaboratively issues of student lived experience of placement is a new and innovative use of this method.
    • Understanding of the Care Act 2014 among carers of adults with learning disabilities

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester (RCN Publishing, 2017-05-26)
      The Care Act (2014) gave new rights to carers for assessment and aimed to provide a structure for a more personalised approach to care and support (DoH, 2014). The UK population is an aging one and research indicates that people with learning disabilities are part of this longevity (Emerson and Hatton, 2008; Foster and Boxall, 2015; Walker and Ward, 2013) with the majority of people with learning disabilities remaining in family care for many years (Cairns, et al. 2013; Gant, 2010). Thus carers are frequently providers of care for their relative with a learning disability and take on many levels of responsibility, often lasting for decades. This paper describes a research study involving 9 carers of adults with learning disabilities to establish their views on this piece of legislation, its likely significance to them and their relatives, and provides a forum for discussion and debate in terms of possible implications for practice.
    • The Use of Language in Hospice Care and the Impact on Patients and Families

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester (Sage, 2017-07-01)
      Whilst there is an expanding literature and a growing knowledge-base relating to patient and family experiences in hospice settings (1,2,3), there is a much more limited corpus reflecting the first-person perspective of patients and their families. These accounts can be helpful in highlighting perceived gaps between current practice and family needs (4). This narrative account reflects upon the perspective of a hospice patient’s family during her last week of life and notes how the actions and language of staff members and volunteers had a major impact on the overall experience and subsequent grieving processes of family members.
    • Working with family carers

      Gant, Valerie; University of Chester (Critical Publishing, 2018-06-06)
      Care-giving transcends race, gender and age and most people will be a care giver or receiver (often both) at some point in their lives. This book explores the extent of caregiving in the UK and discusses its impact on individuals, groups and communities, as well as health and social care professionals. The book covers ways of identifying carers and providing information and advice and, given the likelihood of practitioners themselves providing care, a discussion regarding maintaining resilience and the extent to which personal experiences guide and inform practitioners response to work with carers is included. Exercises allow the reader to explore ways practitioners can engage with and support carers. The recent legislative changes brought about by the Care Act 2014 is discussed, as well as relevant policies. Caregiving has the potential to transcend disciplines, so this text will appeal to students of a variety of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, and across the professional arena including social work, nursing, occupational and physiotherapy. The author is donating her royalties on this book to Carers UK and Carers Trust