Lam, J., & Baxter, J. (2023). “Friend-ish”: Home Care Workers,“Social Labor” and Managing the Boundaries of the Carer Relationship. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 42(4), 581-588.

We examine how changes in home care work, with greater emphasis on socialsupport, have led to corresponding changes in the forms of labor performed byhome care workers. Drawing on interviews with fifty older adults, we find inaddition to physical and emotional labor, workers may be increasinglyexpected to engage in a form of labor we term “social labor,” in which theyactively manage the boundary between the professional services they provideand the personal relationships that may develop. We find examples of suchexpectations include (1) following the lead of clients who set out terms ofthe relationship and degree of sociality, (2) managing the potential dualrole of “support worker” and “friend,” and (3) meeting social needs ofclients vulnerable to isolation. As Government acknowledges the value ofsocial support and companionship, greater attention is needed to this aspectof care work, with implications for workers and clients.