Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Mapping the Division of Labour in Long-Term Residential Care Across Jurisdictions

Document type Thesis
Author Laxer, Katherine Erika
Degree Ph.D., Sociology
Publisher York University; Toronto
Date 2014
Pages 306 pages


Despite the international emphasis on care in private homes, the demand for long-term residential care is rising given the growing number of older persons and those living with severe disabilities. Rising acuity levels of residents have resulted in calls for more training for care providers and concerns have been raised about the supply of workers, drawing attention to the working conditions, pay, benefits and status attached to work in long-term residential care. This industry is a link in the international care chain, with wealthy countries seeking workers from poorer countries. Yet, cross-national data sources provide limited information on the long-term residential care labour force, reflecting the value attached to the sector and the level of concern about the well-being of the labour force. Data that are available indicate that care is prioritized, divided and measured in different ways in different contexts and that there are varying degrees of precariousness experienced by workers. The evidence from the data also suggests that the public not-for-profit sector and unionization are critical shelters for the mostly women providers. Using a feminist political economy approach, this thesis outlines data available from statistical sources in Europe and North America with a case examination of four countries: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden. It critically maps the comparative data on the supply of labour in this industry of health and social care, as well as on their locations and relations. It illustrates the extent to which the framing of care in conventional terms, influenced by both neoliberal and medical notions of care, limits the statistical infrastructure in terms of its capacity to adequately measure workforces involved in long-term residential care and to provide a basis for addressing the continuing supply of labour in this sector.