Research

My main research interest is in the care of older people in Britain and Japan, particularly the history, the mixed economy of care – examining the state, family and civil society – and comparative social policy analysis. My  research to date includes: the Leverhulme-funded research project on ‘The voluntary sector and care for older people: Lessons from Britain and Japan’; a PhD on ’20th century residential care for older people in Britain and Japan’ (The book based on my PhD thesis: The Care of Older People: England and Japan, A Comparative Study (Pickering & Chatto, 2013); and Community University Engagement (CUE) East-funded local qualitative outreach projects.

Research project summaries and related publications:

1. Leverhulme-funded research project: The voluntary sector and care for older people: Lessons from Britain and Japan (2012-15)

For a summary, please visit Current Research.

2. PhD on 20th century residential care for older people in Britain and Japan (2005-10) My thesis compared residential care development for Britain and Japan’s older people since the beginning of each country’s Poor Laws. Empirically grounded historical analysis confirmed the ‘problem’ of care of older people in both countries as being deeply rooted in this legacy and strongly influenced by cultural norms; particularly the persistent stigma associated with institutionalisation. Diversity and complexity in long-term social care and continued reliance on family carers challenged current assumptions concerning progress. The research findings contributed to policy discourse regarding solutions to challenges in social care. The book based on my PhD thesis: The Care of Older People: England and Japan, A Comparative Study (Pickering & Chatto) was published in April 2013.

3. CUE East-funded project on Sustainable long-term care for older people (2010) This local outreach project investigated experiences of ‘person-centred care’ through interviews with care home residents and staff across Norfolk. While positive experiences among better-off residents were found, many poorer and dependent residents lacked the information, support or advice assumed by this model. The findings were disseminated through the project website, publications and public meetings. The project provided an enhanced and enriched understanding of residential care for older people locally and promoted community-UEA engagement in this critical social policy area. Read more in the Project Summary and Project Evaluation Report.

4. CUE East-funded project on Community care and social engagement for older people in Norfolk (2011 to date) Building on the previous project, this project, also funded by CUE East, focussed on community care and social engagement for older people living at home in Norfolk, exploring first-hand experiences and views through interviews. The good practice identified has been fed into engagement activities and one-to-one befriending for isolated older people. Meanwhile, the ‘voices’ collected have been shared through public talks, local carers’ meetings and school visits, enhancing community-UEA links and reaching a wide audience. One key feature to emerge is the significant contribution made by the voluntary and informal sector, often involving older people, as formal volunteers and/or informally as carers or as friends and neighbours giving assistance. Without this essential help, many older people could not remain at home and would lose ‘social engagement’ opportunities. Older people are therefore very often ‘contributors’ to the ‘Big Society’. Read more in the project’s full Report: The Care of Older People in Norfolk: Experiences of social engagement, informal care and volunteering and the Project Summary.

5. Japan’s care of older people (2010 to date) My articles include Testing the limits of care for older people in the Guardian and The care of older people in Japan: myths and realities of family ‘care’ in History & Policy. The latter considered the history of family care in Japan, the cultural assumptions that supported limited state provision and the problems of both family- and state-oriented approaches to care.

6. Japan’s voluntary time-banking in elderly care (2010 to date) Japan led a pioneering role in ‘time-banking’ in elderly care, featuring local mutual help networks based upon exchanges of non-monetary currencies – ‘time credits’. For details, see Japan’s Fureai Kippu time-banking in elderly care: origins, development, challenges and impact in International Journal of Community Currency Research. I gave presentations to the Cabinet Office (March 2011) and National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) in London (May 2011). I continue to advise the Cabinet Office and am also a consultant on Windsor and Maidenhead Council’s Big Society volunteering scheme CareBank.

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