Cleaning and Caring: Contributions in Long-term Residential Care

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Gamperiene et al. 2006 for the connection between good working place relations and the mental health status of cleaning staff.

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Correspondence to Beatrice Müller.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

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 All names have been replaced by pseudonyms in order to maintain anonymity.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.

Additional information

This article is based on data obtained from the MCRI project, “Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care; An International Study of Promising Practices”, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada – Major Collaborative Research Initiative

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Müller, B., Armstrong, P. & Lowndes, R. Cleaning and Caring: Contributions in Long-term Residential Care. Ageing Int 43, 53–73 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12126-017-9290-x

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Keywords

  • Long-term care
  • Care work
  • Elder care
  • Care homes
  • Cleaning
  • Relational care
  • Division of labour
  • Ethnography
  • Feminist political economy
  • Training
  • Qualification
  • Staffing levels