Magazine article WE International

"It's Really Hitting Home": The Home as a Site for Long-Term Health Care

Magazine article WE International

"It's Really Hitting Home": The Home as a Site for Long-Term Health Care

Article excerpt

"It's Really Hitting Home": The Home as a Site for Long-term Health Care

AS LONG-TERM HOME HEALTH care programmes and markets have proliferated in Canada, affected homes end up functioning simultaneously as personal or family dwellings and sites for complex, labour-intensive health care work. Discussions of "healthy communities" often neglect what goes on in private households and the work that individuals (mostly women) are increasingly expected to do to ensure the health of the population. Communities are only as healthy as the people who live, work, and play in them. Can a community be healthy if a large number of people are struggling to take care of themselves and their family members? What are the costs (financial, emotional, physical, etc.) incurred by the care-givers? This is an issue that is of particular relevance to women because previous research shows that women perform most care-giving activities (whether paid or unpaid), and, at least among the elderly, are a high proportion of the long-term care recipients. We know very little about how home care systems actually function or about the consequences of this system for care recipients, households, homes or home health care workers. The Hitting Home Team is working on providing the first comprehensive description of Canadian homes where long-term care services are provided and received.

"The home" has been theorized and studied by feminist scholars, and putative importance has been ascribed to it by others, but what is often overlooked is that the home is simultaneously a symbolic place, a physical place, a work place, and a social space. Although there are some notable exceptions, little is known about how home care is affected by either the dynamics of gender, class, and ethnicity or by structural and organizational conditions. In fact the closer one gets to the actual homes where care is delivered and received, the less research there has been! Our research team is addressing these issues, emphasising the social and spatial relations and material conditions that characterize long-term home care, and we are also taking account of issues of regional difference, gender, ethnicity, and class.

We hope our findings will be of interest to policy makers in the health, social service, housing, and employment sectors at all levels of government; home care service administrators and providers; housing developers; and advocacy groups. …

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