From appearings to disengagements: Openings and closings in video-mediated tele-homecare encounters
In this article, we examine openings and closings in video-mediated tele-homecare for older adults in Finland, using multimodal conversation analysis. We demonstrate how participants organise these boundaries sequentially and multimodally, how visual appearing and disengaging are of key importance in these processes, and how openings and closings mirror each other in this institutional setting. In the openings, the participants orient to sequential structures that resemble those from mundane telephone conversations and Skype interactions: summons−answer, appearing−noticing, greeting−greeting and the “how are you” question−answer. The participants treat appearing as an accountable part of the opening, and delay advancing to the “how are you” question until a proper visual appearing is produced. Closings are managed through stepwise transition practices that result in a terminal exchange and both participants disengaging from the encounter: the clients, by walking away; the nurses, by closing down the connection. In addition to managing visuality, time-oriented talk is present in both openings and closings. A comparison of our results with findings from other technology-mediated encounters emphasises the importance of visuality in managing closings, and shows that tele-homecare is an interesting hybrid of institutionality and informality.
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