This paper emerges from a case study of the system of statutory reviews in older people’s care homes in the UK. Informed by a review of selected literature on gaining access, this paper provides a critical account of the process of negotiating access with gatekeepers (chiefly, care home managers). The negotiations were time-consuming and largely fruitless in terms of actually gaining access to care home residents. Nevertheless, much was learned about the field, in particular, about the attitudes of those with responsibility for caring for older care home residents. The residents in care homes became “hard to reach” research subjects not necessarily because of any cognitive or communicative impairments on their part, but by the defensive attitudes adopted by gatekeepers. It concludes by suggesting that, in this case, the ambiguous shades of meaning conveyed by the concept of “screener” make it a more appropriate term to describe the role than that of “gatekeeper”.


Access, Care Homes, Field Negotiations, Gatekeepers, Older People, Case Study

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