Not a nurse but a mother: The practice of mothering children with complex health care needs.

Authors: Catherine Wilkinson*, Edge Hill University, Bernie Carter, Edge Hill University, Lucy Bray, Edge Hill University, Paula Keating, Edge Hill University
Topics: Disabilities, Women, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Mothering; Nursing; Campaign; Health; Children
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper reports on the analysis of parent-recorded video diaries from a parent-driven campaign, #notanurse_but, supported by WellChild. The campaign aims to ‘shine a light’ on the care parents, who are not nurses, have to undertake for their child with complex heath care needs. The video content reveals family life and the challenges that parents face providing high level, ongoing clinical care for a son or daughter who has complex care needs. A team of four researchers analysed 30 videos from the WellChild website, WellChild Facebook page, a dedicated #notanurse_but campaign Facebook page, YouTube and Twitter. An interpretative, inductive qualitative analytical approach was utilised. This paper reflects on the role of mothering (it was predominantly mothers who took part in the video campaign) for those mothers of a child with complex health care needs. In particular, this paper considers the competing identities of ‘mother’, ‘carer’ and ‘nurse’ that these mothers fulfil as part of their daily regimes (e.g. getting their child dressed for school, administering medication and performing suction) in looking after their children and in ‘being a mum’. Further, this paper considers how the role of mothering is highly spatial, and how mothering evolves in different spaces of the home, considering the increasing medicalisation of the home. In demonstrating the pressure on ‘mum’ to be nurse, carer and mum, with this paper we argued for a need to raise decision-makers’ awareness of the gaps in service provision and support for parents of children with complex health care needs.

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