Family Members as Informal Carers in Old Age Care Policy: Preliminary Observations from a Critical Discourse Analysis


As a model of care for older adults, ‘Ageing in Place’ emphasizes enabling older adults to continue to live in their familiar environment for as long as possible and is central to policy on elderly services in Hong Kong. Increasingly, older adults are seen to be service users who determine their care priorities. This entails increasingly heavy reliance on informal care, which involve more intensive and complex care tasks as well as care management usually provided by family members. In this paper, we probe constructions of such informal care in local policy discourses and civic advocacies through the methodology of critical discourse analysis. It is observed that the availability of family members as informal carers, who will receive and use support services including training and counselling, is assumed. At the same time, the strengthening of the ‘family’ is framed as the key to alleviate problems in aged care. Lastly, the ‘choice’ of care appears to be understood in a way decontextualized from day-to-day negotiations of informal caregiving between family members and older adults. The voices of frontline service workers about older adults’ experiences of ageing in place, which are the main themes of the civic advocacies, are highlighted. Implications are discussed.

Author Information
Beatrice Lam, The Open University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Wai Leung Chan, The Open University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: AGen2021
Stream: Aging and Gerontology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon