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The Spaces of Personalisation: Place and Distance in Caring Labour

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 July 2014

Catherine Needham*
Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham E-mail:


The cluster of reforms to English social care associated with personalisation mark a break with recent thinking about what spaces are considered relevant and appropriate for people with an assessed social care need. The promise of personalisation from a spatial perspective appears to be twofold: expanding the physical spaces that are available to people, while at the same time contracting interpersonal spaces between people and those who support them to emphasise attentiveness and particularism. However, there is a danger that personalisation is much more variable in its impacts. The physical spaces for some are expanding while for others they contract, and these opportunities are likely to be unequally distributed in ways that overlay other forms of inequality. The attentiveness and particularism promised by personalisation is again patchily distributed, with wide variation in the quality of support planning and person-centred care. For the formal care workforce, the two concepts of space (physical environment and interpersonal closeness) intersect as physical spaces shape the capacity to deliver attentive, responsive care. The article brings these concepts together through a discussion of ‘caring labour’ at the intersection of the physical and emotional aspects of space.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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