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The Caring SelfThe Work Experiences of Home Care Aides$
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Clare L. Stacey

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449857

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449857.001.0001

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Doing the Dirty Work

Doing the Dirty Work

The Physical and Emotional Labor of Home Care

Chapter:
(p.43) 2 Doing the Dirty Work
Source:
The Caring Self
Author(s):

Clare L. Stacey

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801449857.003.0003

This chapter describes in ethnographic detail the nature and intensity (both physical and emotional) of direct care of the elderly and disabled, exploring the constraints facing aides who provide direct care. Certain conditions of work—such as financial insecurity, on-the-job injury, lack of training, and bureaucratic constraints on care—produce distress and fatigue for home care aides. With respect to emotional labor, the chapter establishes that there are times when aides' emotional ties to clients lead to feelings of burnout, exhaustion, fatigue, and a sense of alienation. Aides also find themselves providing “surplus care,” working additional hours without compensation or offering to do tasks outside their scope of work, simply because there is no one else to do it. In these moments, broader institutional and organizational realities directly impact the way in which aides experience their emotional labor. These factors reinforce the inequality associated with paid care work, with potential consequences for worker satisfaction and burnout.

Keywords:   home care aides, home care, direct care, caregivers, caregiving, emotional ties, inequality, emotional labor, paid care work

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