Home security: unsettling/re-settling the home to support ageing in place
Amy Clotworthy (University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
With an empirical focus on municipal eldercare services in Denmark, the paper examines how a political emphasis on functional ability and movement produces certain negotiations, blurs the lines between public/private space, and unsettles how older people should be 'at home' in their surroundings.
Paper long abstract:
The home is often perceived as a stable spatial-material setting that sustains the meaningful arrangement and organisation of its occupants' daily activities and routines. In Denmark, politicians and health experts have designated the home as the place where elderly citizens 'function best'. Thus, it is the central site for health assessments and eldercare services provided by municipal health professionals. However, when these professionals enter a citizen's house or apartment, the boundaries between public and private space become blurred. Specifically, the private home transforms into a public workplace that is judged in terms of its capacity and potential to support ageing in place and productive, continued agency. In these encounters, the home becomes a site of action, conflict, movement, and resistance with the ageing body as a shared focus of attention and negotiation. Based on empirical material from 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork that followed a re-ablement (or 'everyday rehabilitation') training programme for elderly citizens in a Danish municipality, the paper provides a socio-cultural perspective on the political expectations for functional ability, activity, and ageing in place. By exploring the Danish concept of 'help to self-help', the paper discusses how the evaluation/rehabilitation process unsettles and re-settles the ways in which elderly citizens are secure and 'at home' in their physical bodies and material surroundings. With a focus on the complex movements of power, authority, and subjectivity within the symbolic space of the home, the paper elucidates how the actors involved experience the transition from one form of security to another.
Staying, moving, (re)settling: transitioning practices, actors and places of care in later life [Age and Generations Network]