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Memorialisation and the metaphor of final journeys: workers' experiences of dealing with death within care homes for the elderly

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Publication details

DatePublished - 2012
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)221-239
Original languageEnglish


Drawing on the literature of metaphor, movement and memorialisation, this paper
focuses on the ‘final journey’, a metaphoric journey undertaken by dead residents which allowed workers in care homes for older people to cope with the amounts of death that they encountered working in care homes for the elderly. Movement plays a key role in the routine functioning of the home and the metaphoric language of a journey is an important conclusion to the stages that have preceded this. It helps explain the care that surrounds death and dying within the care home. Workers’ experiences show that there is a rich oral tradition which symbolism, spirituality, ritual and memorial language explain and at the same time creates continuity for workers within care homes. I argue that the search for meaning is important for staff as they continually face the deterioration of people during their working lives. Further, the use of a metaphorical journey is a practical device for remembering and is imbued with the caring culture of the home and the individual beliefs of the workers involved.

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