Hidden voices…..guiding the way

Authors: Heaslip, V.


Start date: 21 June 2013

Background - People can experience feeling vulnerable whenever their health or usual function is compromised and it increases when they enter unfamiliar surroundings, situations or relationships. Nurses work with vulnerable people every day and as such, addressing vulnerability should be at the heart of professional practice. However within practice the focus is on the external, normative perspective of vulnerability rather than the voices of the individuals themselves. Gypsy/Travellers are often identified as a vulnerable group due to increased morbidity, mortality and marginalised status, yet the perspective of the individuals within this community has not been heard. As such, how do we know how, and in what way, individual Gypsies and Travellers may feel vulnerable? Aim – This presentation summarises the findings from phase one of a two phase phenomenological study exploring “Experiences of vulnerability from a Gypsy/Travelling perspective”.

Methods – Individual and group interviews were untaken with Gypsies and Travellers across the South West of England. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically (phase 1). Results - The findings demonstrated a contrast between the external, normative perspective of vulnerability and the individual lived experience. Yet often services developed to meet the needs of this community are based upon what health and social care professionals feel is needed. Hearing hidden voices enables professionals to ensure that service developments truly address the needs of the community. As such this paper illuminates the importance of professionals seeking and hearing the hidden voices if we truly wish to put people at the heart of care.

Conclusions – This paper may be of interest to front line practitioners, and people who lead and develop services. In addition, the findings from this study could also influence policy with regards to council site planning and management of Gypsy/Traveller sites.

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