• Bethel _
  • Powers A
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-This paper concerns different ways in which nursing home residents interpret their relationships with institution staff. The research on which it is based involved an anthropological social network analysis. Analysis revealed different patterns of resident-staff interaction that are described in relation to four types of personal networks. Their meaning is interpreted in terms of the tensions between residents' common needs for attachment and autonomy and their limited means to achieve satisfaction. Ke.r icords-institutionalized elderly. long-term care, United States There is a large literature relating to staff frustrations with 'dithcult nursing home residents that focuses on behavioral modification interventions [l-8]. Case examples are used to illustrate interaction as it occurs around the problem that the intervener seeks to eliminate or control. However, dynamics underlying the full range of staff-resident exchange seldom have been explored. They need to be if we are to have a clearer understanding of how some problems for staff or residents arise in the first place. This paper concerns different ways in which resi-dents interpret their relationships with staff. The research on which it is based involved an anthropo-logical social network analysis of elderly, institution-alized people's personal ties. Social network analysis is particularly useful for systematically describing the composition, structure, and function of complex sets of interpersonal ties. Barnes [9] first described social networks as types of informal ties of friendship, kinship, and acquaintanceship that reach across and are not readily subsumed by formal groups or cat-egories. Anthropologists building on this and the earlier works of Bott [IO], Epstein [I I], and Mitchell [12] have applied network analysis in urban settings [ 13-161; and it has become increasingly

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  • _ Bethel

  • Ann Powers

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