Punters and providers in the North of Scotland: a study of shared experiences.
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The research was carried out during a time when residential provision for people with learning difficulties in the north of Scotland was changing from being hospital based towards being community centred. The aim was to utilise an understanding of the dynamics of past provision to shed light upon present practice and planning for the future: focussing upon that form of ‘difference’ which has been given the name ‘learning difficulty’. The research utilised records, interviews, narratives and discussion groups to explore the experiences of providers of services, service users and those who were close to them. The research sought to go beyond description; to facilitate respondents in sharing their understanding of the organisation of care services and how it had an effect upon their life chances and self concept. The design of the research, which made use of multiple sources of evidence, was qualitative in its approach. It was undertaken within four ‘sites of interest’: The archive or the historical record of provision at Lhangbyde Hospital.. Through semi structured interviews with ‘Providers’ A ‘Punters’ discussion forum located within a self advocacy group. A set of ‘Intimate Narratives’. The method had its roots in constructivist, reflective and post modern currents of thought which confronted the difficulty inherent is making an epistemological distinction between what is out there in the world and the categories of meaning which are resident in the human mind. The goal was to produce texts which promoted dialogue rather than monologue, were evocative rather than definitive, In chapter 8 some ‘Intimate Narratives’ from the researcher’s own life experience as a father and as a facilitator and adviser within a self advocacy organisation were presented directly as stories of everyday experience. In the final two chapters of the thesis an attempt was made to synthesise the overall findings of the research, and to assess their implications for future policy and practice. In chapter 9, under the heading of ‘Reading the Chart: understanding the past and present as a foundation for future planning’ the findings from the four ‘sites of interest’ were gathered together under seven explanatory themes, with the section entitled ‘Gaining a Voice’ achieving an overall pre-eminence.. The last chapter in the thesis (Chapter 10), under the title of ‘The Future Course’ detailed a plan for change and development based on a synthesis of findings. In addition the role of future research in promoting change was examined. The thesis concluded with a ‘plain language’ summary of recommendations.