Performance management: a qualitative study of relational boundaries in personal assistance

Tom Porter, Tom Shakespeare, Andrea Stockl

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Personal assistance (PA) is a model of support where disabled people take control of recruiting, training and managing the people that support them. Personal assistance differs from other forms of care, such as domiciliary or informal care, because the disabled person is in control of how, when and by whom they are supported. With the advent of personal health budgets, PA is no longer limited to social care but is also central to future NHS services and funding arrangements. The aims of this study were to gain a deeper understanding of PA relationships, and to explore how both parties manage interpersonal challenges. We report on data from 58 qualitative interviews with disabled employers and personal assistants. Applying concepts from Goffman's (1959) scheme of impression management, we present an analysis of the relational dynamics that occur when two people cooperate in shared endeavours. Goffman's concepts of team members and non‐persons, in addition to the themes of regions and information control, aid a more fundamental understanding of the relational dynamics that occur between disabled employers and their PAs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-206
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number1
Early online date27 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • CARE
  • UK
  • WORK
  • care
  • direct payments
  • disability
  • independent living
  • personal assistance

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