Narrative recording as relational practice in social services: a case study from a Scottish carer support organisation

E. Miller, K. Barrie

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    Narrative recording in case records and individual plans within social services represents the means by which stories can be constructed with and about the people with whom services work, influencing relationship building, and outcomes. Identities and decision-making are forged in records, shaping people’s lives. Yet, limited attention is paid to narrative recording in research and practice. Indeed, recording, which increasingly veers towards ‘box-ticking,’ is viewed by practitioners as a bureaucratic burden, limiting time for the ‘real job’ of face-to-face work.

    Drawing on Ricoeur’s narrative hermeneutics in exploring qualitative data from a carer support organisation, we identify the potential contribution of narrative recording. Carers often seek support when their sense of identity and quality of life are diminished by their unpaid caring role. We explore practitioners’ views about the role of the narrative record in holding memories, feeding into recognition of capable agency, clarifying possibilities for action, restoration of identity, and wellbeing. Applying a Ricoeurian lens demonstrates how attaining these benefits requires recording practice which supports recognition through relational practice, in pursuit of better outcomes for carers. Carer benefits could be enhanced by carers holding a copy of and being able to reflect on and further contribute to their own plan.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages18
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
    Early online date8 Sept 2019
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sept 2019


    • narrative recording
    • identity
    • outcomes
    • carers
    • relational practice


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