Working conditions in home care: negotiating race and class boundaries in gendered work

Int J Health Serv. 1997;27(3):479-99. doi: 10.2190/3YHC-7ET5-5022-8F6L.


Home care work in metropolitan areas is a source of employment for immigrant women of color. Service work of this type intertwines domestic and caring labor in ways that reinforce the historically gendered and racialized nature of the work. Such macro level economic and political issues are played out at the micro level of daily service provided within elderly clients' homes. A study of these processes in home care work was carried out in urban southern Ontario in two nonprofit home care agencies. In-depth interviews and focus groups held with visible minority home care workers suggested that workers deal daily with racist attitudes and behaviors from clients and their families; agencies recognize these oppressive processes but usually handle them on a case-by-case basis through supervisors; and home care workers handle racism on the job as they do in their off-work hours-by avoidance, situating incidents within an analysis of the circumstances of elderly clients, setting boundaries on discussions, and occasionally, confrontation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Home Health Aides*
  • Homemaker Services*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Organizational
  • Ontario
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Prejudice*
  • Public Policy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stereotyping
  • West Indies / ethnology
  • Women, Working*
  • Workforce
  • Workplace