Exploring the lived experiences of grandparent kinship carers

  • Katherine Helen Brailsford

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This PhD thesis examines the lived experiences of grandparent kinship carers, drawing on in depth fieldwork carried out in the UK between 2018-2019. Kinship care is the most prominent yet poorly understood form of care for a child who can no longer live with their parents. The current literature and policy base has neglected to account for the perspectives and stories of kinship carers and as such has compounded the notion of kinship care as a hidden from of care. Hence, this thesis makes a unique contribution to our understanding of kinship care, calling for kinship care to be acknowledged as a vital component of the UK care system.
This research uses novel methods for the study of kinship carers, utilising a combination of ethnographic techniques (with two participants) and narrative interview approaches (with eight participants), which moves away from the typical engagement of kinship carers via surveys. The use of these methods emphasizes the importance of understanding stories as representations of lived experiences. Theoretically this thesis presents a conceptual framework for analysing why the impacts of questioning normative frameworks of family, age and care, as seen in broader academic discourses, are not permeating into local practices and the impact this juxtaposition has on the lived experiences of grandparent kinship carers. The findings of this thesis include: participants acknowledging the complexities of occupying a liminal identity position due to their roles as grandparents, parents and kinship carers; the importance of spaces in the home for care practices and the challenges of unequal access to support. Overall, the successful legacy of this thesis will be for researchers, policy makers and the government to acknowledge and crucially listen to and support grandparent kinship carers who are providing such an important yet unacknowledged role.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAnnabel Tremlett (Supervisor), Caroline Day (Supervisor) & Tara Woodyer (Supervisor)

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