Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care

This international, interdisciplinary ethnographic project, led by Pat Armstrong at York University, explores promising practices in long-term residential care. Learn more here.

My work on this project explores the roles that families take in caring for older and disabled relatives who live in long-term care homes. While there are popular assumptions that families ‘abandon’ older people in nursing homes, my research documents the important, but often invisible work that families continue to do when their relatives move to long-term care. Although family members often find it meaningful to spend time with their loved ones, I engage with feminist political economy to show how organizational conditions, including understaffing and task-oriented models of care, mean that families, and especially women, end up doing unpaid work to supplement the care provided by paid staff.

This research is funded by SSHRC.


Barken, R., & Armstrong, P. (2018). Skills of Workers in Long-term Residential Care: Exploring Complexities, Challenges, and Opportunities. Ageing International, 43(1), 110-122.

Barken, R., & Lowndes, R. (2017). Supporting Family Involvement in Long-Term Residential Care: Promising Practices for Relational Care. Qualitative Heath Research, 28(1), 60-72.

Barken, R., & Davies, M.J. (Guest editors). (2017). ‘Re-imagining the House of Old: Promising Practices in Canadian Long-term Residential Care.’ Journal of Canadian Studies, 50(2).

Barken, R., Daly, T., & Armstrong, P. (2017). Family Matters: The Work and Skills of Family Members in Long-Term Residential Care. Journal of Canadian Studies, 50(2), 321-347.