Saturday, 31 January 2009

A long week!

Its Saturday at the end of what has felt like a very long week. I spent some time house and dog sitting this week. No internet access so time again for lots of reading with brief spurts of dog walking activity. I have mainly focused my reading around the various articles I had picked up online the week before and the theses sent to me by a couple of people via the online networks I joined.Some very interesting reading that has taken my thoughts in a number of directions. This afternoon I am having some time to try and organise the last week into some kind of meaningful and logical notes.

I feel much more confident now about being able to justify the use of social networks to generate my sample. The literature is also available to support this approach. Reading Jody Mellor's (University of York 2007) thesis around Muslim and Non Muslim women in university gave me confidence in this also as she used social networking to generate a proportion of her sample too.

So another week in and I feel that I have a plan (albeit a sketchy plan but at least its there in my head).

I have approximately 16 people interested in participating in the interviews most of which have identified themselves through online networks or via snowballing of their contacts.

I am clear that I want to use a narrative approach based on Wengraphs work with a two stage lightly structured interview and a follow up third stage using online contact.

I have framed a question to elicit the narrative and have begun to identify the ethical considerations to prepare me for Faculty ethics approval.

Onwards to next week where my goal is to try and write some of this up into a logical and meaningful piece. I also want to keep my focus around the methodology as I attempt to prepare the necessary paperwork for ethics approval.


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The wonderful world of the web!

Yesterday was a long but productive day. I initially undertook a search around social networking and social software, which includes email, instant messenger services, blogs and wiki's, group discussion systems and group diaries such as live journal. This search lead me to a number of interesting debates around the fear of technology and the internet that existed in the early 1990's to the current situation where as society becomes more technical the internet becomes more social ( The Work Foundation 2003) I decided to post a question on three internet discussion groups/forums. I used the following:

QUALRS-L an electronic discussion group for those interested in using qualitative research for studying humans.

BIOGRAPHIC-NARRATIVE-BNIM - an electronic discussion group for those with an interest in the above method

PerformSocSci newsgroup - a group interested in the performative social science element to research.

Subscribing to these groups and posting so basic information about my research truly demonstrated what the World Wide 'Web' means. A number of emails came through with links to other web based discussion groups including some specifically aimed at learning disability nursing.

Two people offered their thesis as a reference and were able to send these as email attachments. Several people pointed me in the direction of further reading around social software.

Using these networks to access a range of people I would have otherwise missed has made me reflect upon my sample and I feel confident now that these networks will be a viable and ethical approach.

People using networking sites are identifying themselves as learning disability nurses (either past or present) and often through their membership of the networks are demonstrating their wish to remain connected to others and to being 'internet savvy'.
As many proponents of narrative methods suggest the particpants need to be able to articluate their 'story', to share their experiences and to reflect upon this. My reading so far and my experience of networking leads me to feel that those who engage in social networks are often already doing all of the above.


Monday, 19 January 2009


A whole week ( well 5 days) of distraction free reading last week. I hired a little house/cabin in Wales with no Internet access and an intermittent mobile phone signal to allow myself time to absorb some of the material I am reading. The first day was beautiful sunshine and I managed to take a lunchtime break and walk down to the estuary. The setting is a hillside above Dylan Thomas's boathouse. He apparently got his inspiration for 'Milkwood' there and I can see why anyone would be inspired (see photo of view from window). The remaining days saw gale force winds and rain lashing against the windows but the cabin was warm, I had a well stocked fridge and and a well stocked library.

I spent much of the time reading around Tom Wengraphs work on narrative biographical methods and more generally narrative work within nursing. In using this method I will be seeking the stories of 'ordinary' learning disability nurses around their lives and careers. More reading this week and am sticking to reading around methods.

Will keep you informed


Saturday, 10 January 2009

A meeting of minds!

Manchester Piccadilly is a great place for a meeting, cafes, shops and no long walk to the train home! Having the opportunity to discuss a number of key issues relating to my study really clarified things for me. Duncan is a key figure in the history of learning disability nursing and was able to talk me through my study and offer advice and guidance. I came away from the meeting clear that it was the voice of the 'ordinary' learning disability nurse that I wanted to hear and that I wanted to enable their stories to be told without prejudice. I was able to question my own assumptions about what may come out of the study and to put those to one side and use a biographical narrative method (Wengraph 2001) which would support this. Using this type of method allows freedom to explore aspects of the individuals life by framing a very broad question or statement to trigger the narrative.

Sampling has been another thought provoking area, I want to take my sample from a social networking site for a range of reasons (I may discuss another time). I also want to offer my research participants the opportunity to use the Internet to 'follow up' their interview should they want to. This will need careful ethical consideration.

I will be writing about this further but enough for now


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Who is the learning disability nurse?

I met with a friend today who trained as a learning disability nurse at the same time I did - the early 1980's. Fairly soon after qualifying she went to work in residential care with what is now the Local Authority. She maintained her registration as a nurse for years (and to be fair she may still today but we havent had that conversation for a long time). Some twenty odd years later still works with people with learning disabilities - instead of patients or clients they are 'tenants' and before that they were 'service users'. She is called a Care manager and had to undertake an NVQ qualification to meet the requirements of her employer but she did because she wanted to work with people with learning disabilities. Did her nurse education create the person who then left the NHS to work within a different model of care? Was she already subscribing to that model prior to her nurse education through her own set of beliefs and values about people with learning disabilities? What was her contribution to the inclusion of people with learning disabilities in society and was that the nurse in her or was it in spite of nursing?

So who is my sample for this study? Learning disability nurses currently on the register and working in NHS provision or will that be too narrow and take me to a place that defines learning disability in a very specific way. What about those nurses (?) who no longer 'nurse'?

Will leave that one for a while and come back to it. Its late!!!


Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Mmmmm Phenomenology (In a Homer Simpson Voice)

My study is about understanding the lives (specifically careers) of learning disability nurses. The construct of their reality, the way in which they have shaped the reality of learning disability nursing over the past 30 years. How the construct of disability in society has impacted on the ways in which these nurses work, define their role and care for people with a learning disability. I am interested in multiple realities and the way in which phenomenology can embrace these. The reality of Government & policy makers and the way in which this has created models of community care for people with learning disabilities and the part that learning disability nurses have in creating roles within this model. How will this impact on the future role of the learning disability nurse within a model of inclusion (?)

Hermeneutic phenomenology based on the work of Heidegger 1962 has a concern for investigating the essence of human experience which will underpin the study I am undertaking.
A philosophy, which although has its critics, will offer me the opportunity to adopt a humanistic approach, drawing on the experiences of learning disability nurses over the past 30 years but also examining policy and politics of the time. Gathering rich data through life story/oral history interviews will allow the stories of these nurses to be told. In doing this the lives of people with learning disabilities and the social change over that past three decades will also be illustrated and the multiple realities and their interactions exposed.


Sunday, 4 January 2009

Is it procrastination?

Ok, Christmas and New Year celebrations are over and they were a combination of sadness and joy this year. A friend's death at the beginning of my holiday brought great sadness and this combined with the festive season gave a focus on a number of things totally beyond my studies - mortality, family and the true meaning of 'life'. My son coming home for two weeks leave from the RAF has been wonderful but I can honestly say my head has been somewhere else for two weeks.

SO Son has returned to the RAF, the bedroom is now back to being a study and I am looking at the books on the shelf (you will note looking not yet reading :-) )

I am starting tonight by being kind to myself and not 'beating myself up' because my focus has been elsewhere and now just get on with it!!!!


ps. On a positive note I have made an arrangement to go up and see Duncan (supervisor) in Manchester this Friday and I feel this will set my thoughts a bit straighter.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

A new Year and first blog!!!

Well January 1st 2009 brings me to Blogspot and the creation of my blog to record my journey while undertaking my PhD.

An informal record, reflective journal etc etc hopefully this will help to keep me on track and my eye on the ball. I am not sure how often or what I will blog but as with most of my thought processes on this journey it will come to me I am sure :-)

will post more soon

Nicky x