DOI: 10.1177/0961463x231215945 ISSN: 0961-463X

Attunement as a practice of encountering dementia time in long-term eldercare work

Antti Hämäläinen, Emilia Leinonen, Salla Era
  • Sociology and Political Science

Discussing time and temporality in care work is becoming more central as societies with growing proportions of older persons with care needs strive to arrange cost-effective eldercare. As resources become scarcer, the efficiency of care work is emphasised, and care is increasingly sorted into cost-per-minute units. In our paper, we will analyse the different ways care professionals themselves describe their temporal experiences and practices concerning care interactions in long-term dementia care. Our data consists of semi-structured interviews with care professionals ( n = 25) working in round-the-clock service housing in Finland. Using thematic content analysis to analyse the data, we show that, along with a holistic understanding of temporality, good dementia care necessitates understanding alterity, which is insufficiently regarded in linear or quantitative understandings of time. By using concepts of temporal duration (Bergson), crip time (Kafer) and dementia time (Yoshizaki-Gibbons), it is possible to understand another person's alter-temporal experience, into which care can aim to enter and towards which it can attune itself. We argue that a concept of attunement is needed to fully make sense of the ideal temporal practices of dementia care. Our analysis presents attunement as understanding dementia time, receptive practices, and expressive practices, and describes limitations of attunement as temporal discordance.

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