My current research focuses on two areas of inquiry in the sociology of aging. The first examines the provision of health and social care to elderly people, examined from the perspectives, agency providers, home care workers, elderly clients, and family carers. The focus is on three points of intersection: the nexus of public and private spheres, where workers provide publicly funded services in the private home sphere; of professional and non-professional labour, examining relationships between employers, co-workers, clients and caregivers; and of paid and unpaid labour, focusing on the emotional vs contractual nature of ‘care’, provision of unpaid time to meet client need, and the unpaid labour of family and friends in ‘sharing’ of care. This CIHR-funded project, Home Care in Canada: Caring at the Nexus of the Public and the Private Spheres (http://nexushomecare.arts.ubc.ca/), examines data from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.
My second area of research interest is on widowhood in later life, focusing on the ways in which widowhood is experienced and understood in conjunction with other lifecourse events, such as immigration. Cultural representations of widowhood in research, literature, artistic and other information formats are also of interest.
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Although both family care and home support are considered essential components of home-based health-care, the experiences of family caregivers who have a relative in receipt of home support services are not well understood. Little is known about what aspects of home support services assist family caregivers or hinder them in their caregiving. This study examines family member’s experiences of the home support services received by their elderly relatives. Based on a previous Canadian study of contributions in family caregiving, we developed a conceptual model for understanding multiple contributions in caregiving. The present study used this conceptual model to guide the analysis of data from in-depth interviews with family caregivers (N = 52), completed August 2007–April 2008, who have or had an older relative in receipt of home support services in British Columbia, Canada, in the previous 12 months. Verbatim transcripts were read, re-read and independently coded by three members of the research team to identify common themes. Themes relating to direct care (care provided directly to the elderly person) and assistive care (care provided to one caregiver by another) were identified. In discussing the direct care provided by workers, family members emphasised dissatisfaction with instrumental assistance provided by home support workers while also stressing the importance of affective assistance. In commenting about assistive care there were three key themes: caring together, care management, and quality assurance and monitoring. In conclusion, the important role of home support in providing relief for caregivers is highlighted and implications for caregiver policy are discussed.
This article examines the provision of in-home health and social support services to elderly clients in the context of home as the site of care. It considers gender in the provision of home support services by a marginalized group of employed women; in the experiences of elderly clients receiving services in the private sphere of the ‘home’; in the relationships between old people, family member(s) and home support workers; and in the gendered use of space within the household in care work. Informed by a self-reflexive, autobiographical perspective, the researcher’s experiences as a daughter in a family receiving home care prompted the re-examination of qualitative panel data from 150 home care workers and 155 elderly clients. It examines issues of territory and boundary, control and cooperation, the symbolic significance of home and the negotiating of contingent relationships when public services are provided in the private sphere of home.
Objectives. This paper investigates sociodemographic and family structure factors that predict men's involvement (n = 773) in different gendered dimensions of filial caregiving: traditionally male, gender neutral, and traditionally female care.
Methods. The concepts that guide this research relate to family obligations or motivations to provide care, specifically, commitment to care, legitimate excuses, and caring by default. Data for this research come from the Work and Family Survey (1991–1993) conducted by the Work and Eldercare Research Group of CARNET: The Canadian Aging Research Network.
Results. Although such factors as geographic proximity and sibling network composition predict men's involvement independent of the type of task, the gendered nature of the task is important in how other factors, such as filial obligation, parental status, education, and income influence involvement in care.
Discussion. The findings suggest that, for traditionally male tasks, legitimate excuses or a commitment to care may play a more minor role in influencing men's involvement than is true for traditionally female tasks. Overall, this research demonstrates the importance of examining the gendered nature of the care tasks and highlights the value of the conceptual framework for explaining variations in men's filial care.
This article considers, for a Canadian national probability sample of middle-aged women and men, the question of how typical is the experience of being “caught in the middle” between being the adult child of elderly parents and other roles. Three roles are examined: adult child, employed worker, and parent (and a refinement of the parent role, being a parent of a co-resident child). Occupancy in multiple roles is examined, followed by an investigation of the extent to which adults in various role combinations actually assist older parents and whether those who provide frequent help are also those “sandwiched” by competing commitments. The majority of middle-aged children do not provide frequent help to parents. Notably, the highest proportion of daughters who assist elderly parents are those in their fifties whose children are no longer co-resident. For both sons and daughters, being “caught in the middle” is far from a typical experience in this cross-sectional analysis.
Using multiple regression analysis, this study examined the contribution of demographic, job-related, social-support, and caregiving variables to the prediction of work-family conflict, stress, and job satisfaction among a sample of 101 hospital-based nurses who had responsibility for the care of a child and/or an elderly relative. The results revealed that family support, perceived organizational support for family life, perceived workload size, and involvement in child care were mainly responsible for the outcomes studied. In addition, the study underscores the importance of separately measuring both the source and the direction of work-family conflict.