Cleaning and Caring: Contributions in Long-term Residential Care
Cleaning and cleaners make three main contributions to long-term residential care. While cleaning in hospitals has received considerable research attention, much less attention has been paid to connecting cleaning and cleaners with the specific nature of long-term care and resident needs. In this article we explore three critical contributions cleaning and cleaners make to the quality of care in nursing homes. This work is central to infection control. It is also important in maintaining the appearance of the home; in making it home-like, welcoming, and safe. Much less visible is the significant part cleaners play in supporting relational care. Based on ethnographic studies in six countries, we argue that the extent to which cleaners and cleaning promote quality care and worker health is related to the division of labour, team work, training, equipment, and some autonomy.
KeywordsLong-term care Care work Elder care Care homes Cleaning Relational care Division of labour Ethnography Feminist political economy Training Qualification Staffing levels
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
We did obtain written, informed consent from all participants interviewed in this study. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. All names have been replaced by pseudonyms in order to maintain anonymity.
Ethical Treatment of Experimental Subjects (Animal and Human)
Ethical approval was obtained for this research from York University Research Ethics Board and in all jurisdictions requiring further ethics approval.
- Armstrong, P., & Braedley, S. (2013). Troubling care. Critical perspectives on research and practices. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
- Armstrong, P., Armstrong, H., & Coburn, D. (Eds.). (2001). Unhealthy times: Political economy perspectives on health and Care in Canada. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Armstrong-Evans, M., Litt, M., McArthur, M., Willey, B., Cann, D., Liska, S., Nusinowitz, S., Gould, R., Blacklock, A., Low, D., & McGeer, A. (1999). Control of transmission of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus faecium in a long-term–care facility. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 20(5), 312–317. doi: 10.1086/501623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chesley, L., & Richards, C. L. (2004). Infections in long-term-care facilities: screen or clean? Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 26(10), 800–801.Google Scholar
- Cohen, M.G. (2001). Do comparisons between hospital support workers and hospitality workers make sense - Prepared for Hospital Employees’ Union. http://www.sfu.ca/~mcohen/publications/Womenlab/compare.pdf.
- Denton, M., Wilcox, M. H., Parnell, P., Green, G., Keer, V., Hawkey, P. M., Evans, I., & Murphy, P. (2005). Role of environmental cleaning in controlling an outbreak of Acinetobacter Baumannii on a neurosurgical intensive care unit. Intensive & Critical Care Nursing, 21(2), 94–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Feulner, M. (2014). Erst gemeinsam entsteht ein Ganzes. in: Altenheim, 53(6), 16–21.Google Scholar
- Fisher, B., & Tronto, J. (1990). Towards a feminist theory of caring. In E. K. Abel, & M. K. Nelson (Eds.), Circles of care: Work and identity in women’s lives. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Friesema, I. H. M., Vennema, H., Heijne, J. C. M., de Jager, C. M., Morroy, G., Kerkhof, J. H. T. C., & van Duynhoven, Y. T. H. P. (2009). Norovirus outbreaks in nursing homes: the evaluation of infection control measures. Epidemiology and Infection, 137(12), 1722–1733. doi: 10.2307/40390507.
- Gamperiene, M., Nygård, J. F., Sandanger, I., Wærsted, M., & Bruusgaard, D. (2006). The impact of psychosocial and organizational working conditions on the mental health of female cleaning personnel in Norway. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 1(1), 24. doi: 10.1186/1745-6673-1-24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hayden, M. K., Bonten, M. J. M., Blom, D. W., Lyle, E. A., van Vijver, D. A. M. C., & Weinstein, R. A. (2006). Reduction in Acquisition of Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus after enforcement of routine environmental cleaning measures. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 42(11), 1552–1560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Huth, E., Krüger, D., & Zorzi, G. (1996). Gesundheitsförderung im Krankenhausbetrieb. Hamburg: Fachhochschule Hamburg.Google Scholar
- Kundrapu, S., Sunkesula, V., Jury, L. A., Sitzlar, B. M., & Donskey, C. J. (2012). Daily disinfection of high-touch surfaces in isolation rooms to reduce contamination of healthcare workers’ hands. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 33(10), 1039–1042. doi: 10.1086/667730.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Toffolutti, V., Reeves, A., McKee, M., & Stuckler, D. (2017). Outsourcing cleaning services increases MRSA incidence: Evidence from 126 english acute trusts. Social Science & Medicine, 174, 64–69. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.12.015.
- Zuberi, D. (2013). Cleaning up: how hospital outsourcing is hurting workers and endangering patients. Ithaca: ILR Press, an imprint of Cornell University Press.Google Scholar