The current study employed ethnographic methodology to explore the nature and use of knowledge by 26 disability support workers who supported older people with an intellectual disability living at three supported accommodation services in metropolitan south-east Queensland. This paper presents one vignette from the larger ethnography entitled “Katie’s story: The final voyage”. Katie’s story describes how, after a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Katie’s support team responded to her profound and intensifying need from within existing resources, developing an embedded, practitioner-constructed, place-based knowledge that enabled Katie to die-in-place with dignity. Findings from the ethnography identified that – in the face of multi-faceted dilemma, systems constraint, and continually shifting complexity – disability support workers accessed a range of knowledges which they synthesised and translated into a unique, dynamic, responsive, and actionable locale knowledge for the purpose of supporting the unique and changing needs of older people with an intellectual disability. Findings from the research challenge current understandings of disability support worker knowledge as deficient, instead identifying worker ways of knowing as highly targeted, person-centred, and constituting place-based responses to the everyday contingencies and dilemmas of support. Findings from the study have implications for the professional development of disability support workers in their efforts to optimise social inclusion with and for people with an intellectual disability.
How to Cite:
McGhee, A.L., 2020. Locale knowledge: Constructing place-based ways of knowing in complex disability service provision. Journal of Social Inclusion, 11(2), pp.49–63.