Fragile familiarity in transnational home care arrangements for older people

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Karin van Holten
Heidi Kaspar
Eva Soom-Ammann


This paper examines the notion of familiarity in live-in elder care settings and how it is challenged, changed, and reestablished. Live-in care is a strategy to prevent disruptions and preserve familiarity in enabling older persons in need of extensive care to stay at home – and thus, to enable ageing in place. This paper problematizes this strategy based on interviews with family caregivers who engaged a migrant live-in care worker in Switzerland. The key argument is that live-in care arrangements constitute an all-embracing form of inserting formal, paid-for care service delivery into the informal, private, intimate space of home. The live-in care arrangement not only challenges the familiarity of the home space, but also seems to ask for strategies of adaptation to familiarize the unfamiliar. Therefore, the introduction of live-in care is consequential for all involved parties and requires largely underestimated efforts to adapt to the new home space.


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