The conflicts and pressures experienced by carers and care receivers in intimate care.

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A Care relationship has to be ‘constructed’ (K100 course team 1998, p191) otherwise conflicts and pressures will arise.  In all forms of care a person will encounter conflicts and pressures at some point whether it is a care receiver or a care giver, unless attention is paid to develop a constant relationship.  Using relevant literature and personal experiences, I will explore the conflicts and pressures associated with the Intimate care relationship. I will do this from two perspectives, the perspective of the carer and the care receiver.   I will firstly outline each conflict, and then I will suggest reasons why such a conflict might arise and suggest a solution. I define Intimate care or personal care as something that a care receiver would normally do for themselves, for example washing, dressing and using the toilet.  In the essay I will refer to the care receiver as the ‘client’.

The first conflict that I will discuss involves what might be termed ‘caring styles’.

In my employment, I carry out intimate care on a regular basis.  One of the conflicts which I come across most often is the approach to care by a carer with a different caring style.   Some people’s views on privacy are different from my own.  For example, when dressing a client I tend to try and minimise the length of time that the person is unclothed and if they are sharing a bedroom I would always bring a screen across to reduce the embarrassment for both clients.  However someone who has different views may leave the client undressed for lengthy periods of time and when in a shared room would undress both clients in full view of each other.  However, as Twigg has noted ‘Nakedness creates vulnerability’ (cited in K100 course team 1998, p215) and it can be very embarrassing for clients especially if they are unable to voice their own opinion on the situation.  Thus the care receiver can feel very vulnerable when being cared for by another person in an intimate way.  

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The reason why these conflicts occur may be linked to a different childhood upbringing where intimacy was very open, or from training within a different organisation where the emphasis on privacy was different.  When two carers come together from these different backgrounds the conflict arises.  One example of this is where carers were trained some years ago when caring procedures were different. Lawler cites evidence from nurses who were trained to control their emotions: ‘You had to appear what they termed ‘professional’ which was very cold and caught up’ (Lawler 1998, p242) Carers were not allowed to express ...

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