Master of Arts (MA)
Faculty of Science
This study explored the use of touch in the L’Arche approach to care-giving for people with developmental disabilities. The intent was to explore the nature of touch, and the protective and risk factors of this alternative care setting, to promote a safe and respectful environment that enhanced protective factors and minimized risk. The author was interested in the scientific research on the value of touch, ethics in relationships with power differences, the prevention of abuse, and the prevalence of respectful expressive/affectionate touch between people with disabilities and their caregivers. The study engaged one L’Arche community in Ontario, Canada, through a participatory, ethnographic, case study design. The data collection involved six weeks of participant observation, 11 interviews and two focus-groups (N = 19). Creating an inclusive research experience was important to the author, who sought balanced participation in all research methods between residents with developmental disabilities and staff. Amongst the participants were eight staff, seven residents, and four key-informants. The findings of this study revealed that the nature of touch in care-giving at L’Arche is very complex. The protective factors included capacity-building around touch, boundaries, and communication, and the role of community and long term relationships of mutuality. Risk factors included vulnerability, lack of communication and not respecting boundaries, dual roles, cultural differences and inconsistencies amongst L’Arche communities. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be transferrable to other care settings, in order to create respectful and safe environments for people with developmental disabilities.
Buckingham-Rivard, Lindsay Paige, "A Participatory Study of the Nature of Touch at L’Arche: Understanding Protective and Risk Factors to Develop and Approach to Safe and Respectful Touch for People with Developmental Disabilities" (2010). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 971.