Researching the Vulnerable: Ethical Challenges of Researching in Care Homes

Good read for those having to overcome ethical challenges with their research!

The Impossible Choice

Carrying out social research with care home residents requires the careful balance of protecting vulnerable older people, whilst also making sure that the research is inclusive and hears the voices of a typically marginalised population. By assuming that a particular group of individuals, such as those living in care homes, are incapable of making the decision to participate in social research can deprive them of the right to have their opinions heard. Yet there still remains a balancing act of promoting the benefits of participation for older people, with the risks that might be involved.

By the very definition, care home residents will necessarily have some level of vulnerability. For older people in care, vulnerability may be a result of a mental or physical impairment, or arise from their social environment (in this case the dependency that they have on the home and the staff within that home). The experience…

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