Transforming practice with older people through an ethic of care

Elizabeth Ward, Marian Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the relevance of deliberative practices framed by feminist care ethics to social work practice with older people. It draws on two connected projects which brought together older people, practitioners and academics. The first was a participatory research project in which the significance of care to well-being in old age emerged. The second was a knowledge exchange project which generated learning resources for social care practice based on the research findings of the first project. Here we analyse selected transcripts of recordings from meetings of both projects to consider the ways that discussions about lived experiences and everyday lives demonstrate care through this dialogue. Using this analysis we propose that care ethics can be useful in transforming relationships between older people and those working with them through the creation of hybrid spaces in which ‘care full deliberation' can happen. We argue that such reflective spaces can enable transformative dialogue about care and its importance to older people and offer a counterbalance to the procedurally driven environments in which much social work practice takes place and can support practice more attuned to the circumstances and concerns of older people.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906–922
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Social Work following peer review. The version of record Lizzie Ward and Marian Barnes, Transforming Practice with Older People through an Ethic of Care, British Journal of Social Work (2015) 1–17 is available online at:


  • care ethics
  • older people
  • deliberation
  • care
  • social work practice


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