Who cares for the caregivers? : a comparative study of residential and day care teams working with children
The practice research question is first analysed from an historical and comparative perspective, using a grounded theory of enquiry to outline the perimeter of a distinctive field of study - group care. Twelve structural features of service design are identified and then used to locate the principal patterns of group care service - institutional care, residential group living and day care - within the social policy ideal of a continuum of care for children and families. The occupational focus of group care is then analysed to establish the theoretical relationship between quality of working life for personnel and the production of welfare services. Team functioning and staff experiences of life outside work are identified-as central concerns in the evaluation of service production capability in teams. Basic assumptions about teamwork in the practice domain of group care are evaluated, to establish the theoretical and methodological premises upon which an assessment of 8 ideal types of team functioning can be made. This action research paradigm is evaluated with respect to empirical findings obtained from a comparative sample of 63 different teams, working for 13 separate agencies in Scotland, England, Canada and the United States between 1977 and 1982. An illuminative case study of group care practice in one agency is also presented to highlight the relationship between resident group characteristics and patterns of team functioning for workers in group homes, institutional living units and secure units. Eight quality of working life hypotheses are evaluated through the use of a 'continuous comparative analysis of the data and non-linear statistics. Implications for practice are summarised for group care workers, managers, educators and policy makers.