Objectives: To examine the institutional contexts that contribute to the low priority given to the development of self-care independence in a rehabilitation ward. Design: Research was guided by ethnographic principles of Martyn Hammersley and Paul Atkinson (2007). Individual in-depth interviews were completed. Participant observation was done daily during the rehabilitation stay of the patients. Patients: Six men and three women with neurological impairments and their caregivers. Results: Patients daily routines on a rehabilitation ward in Taiwan are described. Four prominent themes emerged from the data: (1) the attitudes of patients, caregivers, and staff facilitated extended rehabilitation stays within the first year after disability, (2) attending therapy sessions was the most important activity, (3) pragmatic considerations, such as faster and easier, outweighed the value of developing self-care independence, and (4) strategic organization of daily routines to keep therapy the priority was critical for daily activity. Conclusion: Multiple institutional factors jeopardize the development of self-care independence in a rehabilitation ward. The factors include the primacy of biomedical-oriented rehabilitation ideology, insurance reimbursement policies, and cultural values associated with family caregiving. They legitimize the low priority given to developing self-care independence. Therapists need to include a critical review of daily routines (what and how activities are carried out inside and outside of therapy clinics) as part of therapy regime to identify opportunities and institutional constraints to the development of self-care independence.
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