“Leisurely Dining”: Exploring How Work Organization, Informal Care, and Dining Spaces Shape Residents’ Experiences of Eating in Long-Term Residential Care

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Abstract

Mealtimes are among the busiest times in nursing homes. Austerity measures resulting in insufficient staff with heavy workloads limit the amount of time available to assist residents with eating. Within a feminist political economy framework, rapid team-based ethnography was used for an international study involving six countries exploring promising practices and also for a study conducted in one Canadian province in which interrelationships between formal and informal care were investigated. Data collection methods included interviews and observations. In addition, dining maps were completed providing a cross-jurisdictional comparison of mealtime work organization, and illustrating the time spent assisting residents with meals. Dining maps highlight the reliance on unpaid care as well as how low staffing levels leave care providers rushing around, preventing a pleasurable resident dining experience, which is central to overall health and well-being.

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