Ethnography involves observing and talking to people in their own environment to understand their practices, experiences and, for us, their contextualised perspectives on elder care. Our first step was to spend time in the six care homes that agreed to participate, speaking to older staff members - HWL’s focus - in what little down-time they have.
We made a series of visits between May and October 2022, including during night shifts. The goal was to understand better the numerous issues they face in the workplace. This provided ethnographically rich insights into the daily experiences of a workforce and the challenges they face – but might also be able to help address.
This ethnography had a key role to play in the next stage of HWL, sharing data on context and priorities allowed our co-design team to create unique “probes” for each care home. This demonstrated we understood their particular situation, and were ready to work with them to develop meaningful solutions to the problems they themselves had identified.
We are currently writing up the ethnographic work, and highlighted in our findings are small insights, motivators and local innovations that can make really improve morale and encourage employees to stay in their job.
These small innovations are not “instead of” meaningful and sustainable change at a sector level, but can help increase care home stability until the co-design activity is completed.