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Managing the body work of home care

Body work is a key element of home healthcare. Recent restructuring of health and social care services means the home is increasingly a key site of long-term care. While there is a growing literature on the social dynamics between care recipients and their family caregivers, less is known about the formal work dynamic between paid care workers and care recipients and family caregivers. Drawing on interview data from an Ontario-based study of long-term home care, we explore how body work is negotiated through the embodied practices of care in the home and through care relationships associated with home care. In particular we focus on how the practices of intimate body care (such as bathing, toileting, and catheter management) show the diverse dynamics of care work through which caregivers, care recipients and homespace are constituted. We argue that the practices of care are shaped by a complex interweaving of regulatory mechanisms associated with home care along with the physical and affective dimensions of intimate body work. In turn this suggests the need for new ways of understanding body work in contemporary landscapes of care.

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Sociology of Health & Illness

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