Long Term Care (LTC) facilities in BC have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the first two waves of the pandemic (March 1, 2020, to February 15, 2021), 69% of COVID-19 deaths in Canada were attributable to residents in LTC facilities. In addition to the direct health risk of COVID-19 infection, those working in LTC faced increased workloads, rapidly changing information, and stressful work environments.
80% of those working in the health and social assistance sector identify as women. Overall, women have disproportionately experienced the secondary effects of COVID-19, which are indirect social, economic, and non-COVID health impacts, not only because they make up the majority of essential workers, but also because they provide the bulk of care to children and other dependents at home.
This brief summarizes preliminary findings of a qualitative research study exploring the experiences of women working in long-term care (LTC) facilities in British Columbia (BC), Canada during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five focus group discussions and two semi-structured interviews were conducted with care aides, or those working in similar capacities, and two focus groups were held with those working in custodial and food service at LTC facilities. Participants were recruited through emails disseminated by unions and social media advertisements. Focus groups and interviews took place virtually over Zoom during March 2021. Informed consent was received from all participants, with ethics approval granted by Simon Fraser University. Through a framework approach, analysis provided insight into the risks, challenges, and inequities facing women working in LTC. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted challenges facing the LTC sector, which has borne the brunt of community outbreaks. This research aims to bring to light the experiences of those working within the sector, in order to inform the development of more equitable and sustainable care systems.