Supporting Buddhist identity in long-term care situations

Hillary, Martin A. (2011) Supporting Buddhist identity in long-term care situations. Doctoral thesis, Anglia Ruskin University.

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The Triratna/FWBO Buddhist movement has been associated with younger people and a lifestyle in which single sex residential communities and work projects (TBRLs) have been prominent. There is now a trend towards a wider range of lifestyles including fewer people living communally. Demographic changes include 50+ average age for ordained members and some people developing Long-Term Care (LTC) needs, with limited family and financial support. This raises questions as to the extent to which ‘Buddhist identity’ can be supported in LTC situations, with informal care, mainstream LTC services and possible care-based TBRLs all relevant.Data-gathering was initially on the basis of a general investigation of LTC issues in Triratna/FWBO using an eclectic, primarily qualitative design which had features of both a case study and a cross-sectional survey. 17 interviews included participants with current LTC needs, others asked to anticipate future care preferences, and people with relevant expertise. A questionnaire was formulated to explore attitudes to possible care-based TBRLs, with 107 participants and numerous additional comments. There was a strong consensus that Buddhist-based LTC services would, for example, provide better vegetarian diets and have an understanding of Buddhist names taken at ordination. These features were included in a conceptualisation of Buddhist identity which contrasted ‘Buddhist’ and ‘Non-Buddhist’ life, and noted ‘Dreams’ and ‘Nightmares’ as to LTC. Effective basic care was seen as essential to the general level of well-being needed for Buddhist practice, whilst a higher level of support might facilitate access to Buddhist ‘life goods’, and assist people in self-verifying themselves as committed Buddhists through ongoing practice. Informal support from fellow Buddhists was available in many contexts, but not at levels of intensity and duration characteristic of some family-based care, and it was seen as modulated by perceptions of burden, ‘busy-ness’ and other factors. There was a ‘legacy of suspicion’ of mainstream LTC, mainly focussed on residential care, with acknowledgement of some good/respectful carers and care services. TBRLs in LTC were generally welcomed, being seen as suitably altruistic work which might feature an atmosphere of ‘mutuality’ between staff and clients who were Buddhist or of Buddhist sympathy. Comparative material was used here from Methodist, Jewish and Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) communities in LTC contexts, with the last of these conceptualised as comparable to the Western Buddhist community as a currently emerging identity in terms of later life services. Practicality and feasibility were discussed with reference to existing TBRLs, and experience of paid-for care input between Buddhists. The latter appeared supportive of Buddhist identity and readily linked to the personalisation agenda in social care. Buddhist-friendly services were seen as a possible context for generativity, and the concept of ‘a natural part of life’ was explored in terms of the emergence of LTC in the Triratna/FWBO movement, and of Buddhism as a gradually more familiar identity which might be encountered in the sphere of LTC.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: Theses from Anglia Ruskin University
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2012 11:57
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:02

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