Originally published in 1981, in Old Age Homes Roger Clough presents a vivid description of the lives and work of residents and staff in an old people’s home. His powerful analysis of the realities of residential work would make a major contribution to improved practice, to social work training, and to social policy formation.
Many people, including some social work professionals, still felt that the very existence of residential homes illustrated a failure of society, and that living with their own family or on their own was invariably a more satisfactory experience for old people. Roger Clough questions this assumption. He argues that homes are needed and if they are to be good places in which to live and die there must be a clearer understanding of the interactions that take place within them.
The descriptive parts of the study, based on detailed observation and lengthy interviews, strongly reflect the author’s genuine compassion and warmth for old people. His most illuminating perceptions are presented from the perspective of the old people themselves, many of whom were conscious of the double-bind in which residents and staff are caught: there is a prevailing belief that it is best to keep active in old age, yet many of the elderly had little they though worth doing, while the staff saw their role as doing whatever they could for the residents.
Roger Clough uses his material to test two central hypotheses: first that there is a linkage between the attitudes to aging held by staff and the degree of control over their own lives exercised by residents; and secondly that this degree of control is strongly correlated with resident satisfaction. Through an acute analysis of these key variables, he demonstrates the circumstances in which living in a home can be, for certain old people at certain times, the way of life they themselves would choose. His conclusions are of the greatest importance for social work practice and for the changing of staff attitudes in training.
Old Age Homes would challenge anybody who knows or works with a resident in an old people’s home. But it would be of outstanding value for the managers, practitioners, trainers and students to whom it was primarily addressed at the time.
Table of Contents
Foreword. Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. Old Age Homes – Myths and Realities 2. Styles of Old Age Homes 3. Participant Observation on Old Age Homes 4. Comparative Background Information 5. Going into a Home 6. Daily Life for Residents in The Pines 7. My Jepson and Mrs Williams – Pictures of Two Residents 8. Departure 9. I Hope We Can Make Them Happy 10. Norms and Controls 11. Ageing in the Institution 12. The Function of Old Age Homes 13. The Old: Adults with Rights to Services. Appendix 1: Staff Questionnaire. Appendix 2: Resident Interview. Bibliography. Index.