We are now living in an ageing society and so health and social care will play a part throughout our life course in one way or another. I shall start the main body of my assignment by providing an explanation of what is meant by the life course. I will then move onto my experiences of adulthood and of using health and social care services, showing as I go how block 1 has helped me to critically reflect upon these and the outcome. Critically reflection means that I will analyse, challenge and question within this assignment.
I will also show the different methods of reflection to explore my life course and show how important reflection can be in health and social care setting. After reflecting I will discuss other aspects from within the learning guides. I then will come to the end of the assignment with a brief conclusion. The term life course is made up of expected age related events throughout life, that are traditions within a society. These life courses can change in different cultures.
These events within a life course can affect how people live which is called life course perspective, by understanding a person’s life course, we can use it to provide appropriate support and provision. In learning guide three, open university, five principles by Bengston et al (2005), occur within the life course perspective; by discussing these we have a better understanding of the life course, ‘It establishes a common field of inquiry by defining a framework that guides research in terms of problem identification and formulation… ’, (Bengston et al, 2005, Chapter 1).
The first is called linked lives, which is how our lives are affected by others, they have are very influential, especially family. The second is time and place, it discusses how things such as historical events, living in a time of economic decline for example, The Great Depression, can restrict certain opportunities and shape who people are and become. The third is timing, this consists of the timing of specific events within a person’s life that may or may not fit in within society’s norm of when the event should happen such as education and having children.
The fourth is make hoices about what to do and have plans, it is about agency, how they plan their life, have influence over it and can continually assess if it is going to plan. However I feel that this can be critiqued as still there are arranged marriages, controlling relationships, forced prostitution, all of these have little agency over their life as well as many other cases. The fifth and final one is life-long, this shows that ageing is not just an older stage of life but is happening to all of us, it is a life-long process and events can determine the outcome of later life.
Applying these to health and social care settings can help complete a picture of an individual’s life, I will also apply some of the five aspects to my experience. To critically reflect on my own experiences I had to figure out which parts of my life would be relevant. At the end of my reflection I will show how these examples changed my values and ethics and also now what I expect from health and social care professionals. The three types of reflection by Barker (2010, p. 122) cites (William 2001) within learning guide one, open university, are probably the best method to help reflect on my first experience.
The first type of reflection by Barker is content reflection this consists of what happened. What happened is that I had a swift transition from childhood to adulthood as I became a mother at sixteen. The second part of reflection is process reflection which is why it happened. It happened because at the time I felt older than my years and to show my parents and friends how grown up I was, I got pregnant. The third part is called premise or critical reflection which shows why it happened and the judgement for it.
As a teenager all I cared about was my feelings and nobody else mattered it was what I wanted and so I made sure it did. I was treated as a social outcast by certain family and was also treated in a very patronising manner by the GP and other health care professionals such as midwives, throughout my pregnancy and early motherhood. By drawing on this as an experience I wanted to show that my values back then were selfish and all about me and becoming a mother this changed my outlook by making my child my priority and I used this as a strength to prove the professionals wrong and that I would make a good mother regardless of my age.
I realise now that a lot of judgements were made because this was not classed as society’s norm also shows the second principal of time and place as I was classed as the modern youth culture. I also feel that if the professionals had taken the time to understand my life course as discussed within learning guide three, open university, they would have understood why I had taken this course of action. ‘When people don’t do what seems to be the obvious, sensible, rational thing to promote their own health and wellbeing, it can be tempting to characterise them as ‘awkward’, ‘irrational’, ‘their own worst enemy’ ….. (Open University, LG 3. 2).
I feel that this sentence sums up how I was treated, and the assumption of me by the health professionals. I chose this to show that I still had the rights to be treated as any other mother to be and not as a social outcast from a modern culture. I wanted also to bring in that this may also be classed as an ethical dilemma for certain members of staff as they may feel uneasy dealing with a teenage mother to be. Ethical dilemmas often arise in health and social care as mentioned in learning guide five.
I will be using the three suggested methods of reflection by Rolfe et al (2001), (LG1, open university), for my next experience. The first method is what the situation is, looking into any problems and any feelings about it. This situation is that I was diagnosed with Sero-negative arthritis at 25, I was devastated, I had two children by this point to look after and an abusive partner who was no help. The second method consists of so what, I took this to mean, what was learnt and any thoughts about the situation.
At the time I was understandably upset but I had very good family and friends to help, shows the importance of linked lives. I had to very nervous of going back to the judgemental professionals that I’d dealt with earlier, they were not very informative and I was placed on a waiting list to see a specialist. The attitudes of the professionals was that I had been diagnosed, deal with it basically. The third method is now what, what needed to be done, improve my understanding.
I researched as much as I could, realised it usually affected people between 40 – 50 so learning this I felt old showing the fifth principle by Bengston et al, that ageing happens to us all, I was suffering from what I thought was an older persons illness. I kept going back to the GP time after time pushing my way up the waiting list, showing them research of what can happen without early treatment to ensure I was seen to as quickly as possible, this caused a little conflict between myself and the GP as I felt I knew more than they did and they did not like that fact.
I feel that reflecting back on this again the health professionals and the care I received was poor. I eventually had care by rheumatology staff who looked at my age and would assume that I was not suffering as bad as the others, I was let down by the health service as a whole. I also wanted to show that they were not taking into account my quality of life was going to suffer if I wasn’t treated effectively. Chronic illness is discussed also as a biographical disruption.
Biographical disruption is an event outside your expectation of your life course that is unwanted or not expected. Being diagnosed with Sero-negative arthritis definitely fits in with this analogy, in fact a paper was written discussing how chronic illness as biographical disruption, ‘My contention is that illness, and especially chronic illness, is precisely that kind of experience where the structures of everyday life and the forms of knowledge which underpin them are disrupted. , (Bury, Chapter 5, Reader). Using another method of reflection by Schon (1983), (LG1, Open University), I will explore my third and last chosen experience. The first is reflection in action which is how it sounds by using past experience, knowledge to guide you. Although I am now in a happy relationship, I was once in an aggressive and violent relationship for ten years and it affected my every aspect of my life from my confidence to new relationships.
By using this type of reflection, although until reading this type of reflection I had not even realised I had done it, I used my previous relationship to ensure that I would be treated like a woman in my new relationship. The second is called reflection on action this is basically thinking back on what actions we took after the event. I had left after an incident which had needed a police visit and so social services had been notified because of the violence to ensure the children had not been involved and I found them very judgemental of the fact I had stayed for so long in an abusive relationship.
I showed social services that I had asked for support for me and children by an external organisation as soon as I left and that I was aware we would need it. Social services told me that we would need to work together to ensure that the action I had taken was sufficient and that all the steps necessary to ensure that we were all supported were taken. At first Social Services were quite rude and intrusive by I realised that it was their job to be intrusive and once I let my guard down with them, I actually found that they were there to help.
I anted to show this as an experience because I was brought up with strong family values and ethics so I stayed in the relationship because I did not want a broken family for my children even though looking back now I know that it was the wrong thing to do. I also feel it must be hard for social care providers to sometimes understand my reasoning for staying as my family values when their values may have been different causing the initial tension. I realise now that sometimes even though you were raised with certain values and ethics sometimes yours and your families’ welfare takes priority.
I also wanted to show that that the fourth principle by Bengston et al is not always possible, throughout this relationship I had no autonomy, in a controlling environment you can only do what you are allowed to do and not everybody has the chance of breaking free. The quality of life, for me and my children was also affected, I have taken an extract to show my point that, ‘There are objective qualities too, and some of these, such as sufficient nutrition, a non-hazardous environment, and a long and healthy life are universally, or virtually universally uncontroversial as components of quality of life. (Phillips, chapter 3, Reader).
Within the quote it mentions a non hazardous environment which is the opposite of what we were living in. By reflecting about the above experiences, and others not mentioned, I feel that I have had a difficult life course but because of them I feel I have built up resilience. My experience of adulthood started a lot earlier than was planned, it was not an easy option but I adapted well. Adulthood did not really get easier for me until recently where I found my independence and was safe away from harm.
With my experiences of adulthood not being so great, I would say that I feel a lot older than I am, if I bring in positive ageing or successful ageing which was discussed in learning guide two then I would say I definitely do not fit that description the next quote helps explain why. ‘Successful aging is more than the absence of disease, important though that is, and more than the maintenance of functional capacities, important as it is.
Both are important components of successful aging, but it is their combination with active engagement with life that represents the concept of successful aging most fully… ’, ( Rowe and Kahn, 1997, Open University). I am more aware of my ageing process since being diagnosed at such a young age of sero-negative arthritis but as it is not life threatening I feel I have a long time left yet until the end of my life.
I also think that because I made the decision to leave my abusive partner that my quality of life has dramatically improved if I had stayed in that environment I feel that I would not be here now to talk about it. My values and ethics have been influenced by a lot of my experiences over the years and have definitely altered. My values and ethics consist of what is good for me and the children, if I am happy and content then they will benefit it means that I can also now offer a more open, respectful and secure upbringing.
I am now going to bring my assignment to an end by summing up my conclusion. With the experiences that I have mentioned within my assignment you can see that my interaction with the world of health and social care has been quite eventful. I have been faced with professionals who have judged me and made assumptions and also who have made me feel inadequate but I was also helped by social services and feel stronger because of that so I am unsure of how to sum up the field of health and social care as it covers such a wide aspect within our life courses.
If there was more training provided in understanding life courses and offering person centred care then I feel things would improve but in a time of economic decline I cannot imagine that the funding for this would be available. I do feel that there will always be prejudices within the health and social care profession and that their personal values and ethics may also always play a part in the way they offer support. (