They Deserve Better

The long-term care experience in Canada and Scandanavia
March 20, 2009

“They Deserve Better.” These words of one worker capture the essential message we heard in researching this book, words that can apply equally to residents and to those who are employed in long-term residential care.

Long-term residential care has long been a crucial part of Canada’s care system and it is becoming increasingly so as more people live into old age and with severe disabilities. Even though the emphasis in recent years has been on care at home, many will still need residential care. Yet not much policy or research focuses on long-term residential care, and even less starts from the perspectives of the mainly female workers or recognizes the critical relationship between the quality of working conditions and the quality of care.

This book seeks to fill this gap by beginning with the perspective of those who are employed in long-term residential care in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Ontario and starts with the assumption that the conditions of work are the conditions for care. By comparing our results with those from a parallel study in four Nordic countries, we show both that the way we organize the work too often leads to poor conditions for care and that there are choices to be made in organizing, funding and delivering care. Both Canada and the Nordic countries have lots of room for improvement but by comparison, the Canadian system is over-burdened, under-funded, and short-staffed. In short, this sector is neglected. They Deserve Better examines the consequences of this neglect for both workers and residents and clearly demonstrates that alternatives.