Invisible Women – Gender and the Shifting Division of Labour in Long-Term Residential Care Facilities

Invisible Women: Gender and the shifting division of labour in long-term care facilities

This unique study aimed to better understand if and how residents’ care and workers’ occupational health and safety are affected by a shifting division of labour due to the utilization of informal carers (e.g. paid private duty, and unpaid student, volunteer and family care) in residential care facilities in Ontario. The study combined political economy — which focuses theoretical attention on paid and unpaid care work — with a mixed method design that includes a survey and observational and interviewing techniques used in qualitative ergonomic studies.

In residential care facilities, women provide most of the formal and informal care, and women are also the majority of the residents in facilities. Consequently, an overarching theme of this study is to explore how gender affects the shifting division of labour, and the consequences of this shift for occupational health and safety, and for staffing intensity. Our work proceeds from the assumptions that there are gender differences in how we live, work, and age, as well as in our access to power and in our social as well as economic resources. It also assumes that differences have consequences for health, for care and care work, as well as for symptoms, treatments and health outcomes.

Dr. Tamara Daly
Dr. Pat Armstrong
Dr. Karen Messing

This study uses a mixed methods triangulation design: convergence model (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007), which is considered a traditional model where qualitative and quantitative data are collected in tandem, then are compared and interpreted at the same time.

In short, given the range of formal and informal care providers who perform care in facilities, the lack of research attention on informal care, and administrative data that do not account for informal care, this study asks very important overarching questions about the gendered organization of formal and informal care work in long-term residential care facilities.
1. What happens to the division of labour in long-term residential care facilities in the presence of work
performed by other carers (i.e. paid private duty carers, students, volunteers and family)?
2. In what ways are workloads and occupational health and safety in the facilities affected by the care that others provide?
3. Finally, how do we understand staffing intensity if we account for work performed by other carers?

The use of a mixed methods research design will aid in getting a better understanding of these important but poorly understood relationships.

Invisible Women Brochure