Normative puzzles for local government: Managing the introduction of single‐handed care in England

Leigh Rooney*, Tim Rapley, Phillip J. Whitehead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


A crisis in social care is apparent across the developed world as ageing populations put unprecedented demand on understaffed social care workforces. A recent popular response to this ‘care crisis’ within the UK involves the ‘innovation’ of single‐handed care (SHC). SHC involves a care package with two or more homecare workers being reduced to one worker using advanced equipment and new moving and handling techniques. In this article, we explore how SHC is rendered in 245 documents from 52 local authorities in England. Using Actor Network Theory as an interpretative lens, we suggest documents attempt to satisfy three ‘duties of care’: to the individual wellbeing of citizens, morally and fiscally to the collective and to innovation. Each appeal to different stakeholder groups necessary for SHC to work, but the combination of duties can pose problems in enabling coherent stories of SHC. Duties can be kept apart in different documents, but at times they must be brought together in certain textual spaces to enact SHC as a coherent enterprise. Here, the potential tensions that emerge are routinely orientated to as (merely) problems of process that can and should be managed in and through a more refined approach to change management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-733
Number of pages16
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number4
Early online date28 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Normative puzzles for local government: Managing the introduction of single‐handed care in England'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this