Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

Sara Green

Keywords

caregiving, characters, disability, narratives

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine how various characters are portrayed within the self-narratives of women who are employed to care for adults with disabilities. This research looks at how these women's personal narratives construct characters-their clients (the individuals they provide services for), clients' guardians, and how these women portray themselves as caregivers. Interviews were conducted with eight women who provide paid care services to physically and/or cognitively impaired adults who receive services through the Florida Developmental Disabilities Home and Community Based Services Waiver Program. This program endorses specific expectations about the nature and purpose of caregiving. According to their stories, clients were perceived as diverse and in control; relationships with parents and legal guardians were described in terms of helpful and challenging qualities; and, "good" caregivers were perceived as maintaining client choice, and were expected to know their clients. Given the disparate narratives of care that exist in the Waiver, the work these study participants do requires careful balancing of often contradictory expectations. Their accounts indicate how at the ground level, these narratives of care become "muddled" as caregivers interact with clients and other significant individuals.

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