Title: Forms of empathy of care home staff working with older people

Authors: Rebekah Luff

Addresses: Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK

Abstract: This qualitative paper examines the use of empathy by care staff working in care homes, and how this empathic engagement relates to the care they provide. Taking an interpretative analytical approach of 36 interviews with care assistants working in 5 UK care homes, it is argued that several different types of empathy are undertaken by care staff in their daily work. These different forms of empathy include direct empathy, placing themselves in the position of the resident, indirect empathy, thinking how they would feel if the resident were a loved one, as well as empathy relating to individuals, groups, specific and general situations. It is argued that these different forms of empathy influence direct care, are used to form caring rules and also relate to care staff|s own |philosophy of care|.

Keywords: care assistants; emotion work; interpretative methodology; old people; empathic engagement; UK; United Kingdom; direct empathy; residents; indirect empathy; individuals; groups; direct care; caring rules; philosophy of care; residential care homes; elderly mentally infirm; work organisation; emotion; virtual feelings; visceral feelings.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2010.032928

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2010 Vol.3 No.3, pp.302 - 316

Published online: 05 May 2010 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article