This paper proposes a framework to guide research and analysis of informal care building on and developing earlier ideas about ‘caringscapes’ and ‘carescapes’. We use the metaphor of a ‘care ecology’ to suggest an overarching framework in which individuals’ ‘caringscapes’ are viewed as dynamically interacting with the resources and services of a ‘carescape’. We start by summarising the main features of the caringscape and carescape frameworks, and then explore possible forms of interaction in the ‘care ecology’. First, we discuss the processes of reciprocation, ‘entrainment’ and care accounting through which people use or develop social networks to provide informal care support as resources and needs for care change. We examine the links between formal and informal care and suggest how these may assist organisation and re-organisation of care and encourage small, localised innovations, adaptations and initiatives which may create new forms of institutionalised or community support or spur wider political activism. We conclude by discussing the concept of a ‘care ecology’.
- informed care