Representations of Care
It’s the researcher’s job to interview people involved in social care- asking the right questions and listening to the answers; analysing and thinking about the results; working with ideas and theories and getting the research out into the world. They hope that it will make a difference.
It’s our job, as a research support team, to work with the researchers to produce outputs that are interesting and easy to read, eye catching, and relevant to our audience. Our first project in the Sustainable Care Programme was to build the CIRCLE website, and we discovered a problem: a distinct lack of positive, accessible, diverse and representative pictures showing people receiving care or giving care to others. The problem is twofold: (1) there is a lack of photos depicting care / care workers or those receiving care on stock photography websites; and (2) available photos often do not convey the correct message. Many show people as patients, being cared for in hospitals or by nurses in their own homes rather than by a partner, relative or care worker; many show older people looking frail or sad but with no positive images of ageing well or living well with disability; many are images with wheelchairs, walking sticks and hospital beds.
Since then, the variety of images representing social care has improved, but we still struggle to find exactly what we need. We want to be able to tell the stories of those living with care, using real people and their real experiences.
Now, we are working with Carers UK and the Engagement team in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield on a digital exhibition for the ESRC Festival of Social Sciences. Called “I’ll be here in the morning”, the exhibition is designed to give a voice to the unheard and put faces to the unseen, those people who quietly give so much of their own lives to care for others.