New book brings fresh perspectives on clothing and laundry

Pat Armstrong
Suzanne Day

Clothes are inextricably tied to dignity and personal identity.  They take on a particular significance in places such as long-term residential care, where they are among the only personal indicators of identity residents may retain. In

In Wash, Wear and Care: Clothing and Laundry in Long-Term Residential Care, Sociology Professor Pat Armstrong and Suzanne Day, a graduate of York’s Sociology Doctoral Programme, use the particular case of clothes in nursing homes to raise larger questions about care, women’s labour, privatization and dignity for both those who need and those who provide care.

The book is based primarily on ethnographic research from a seven-year SSHRC-funded project Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care: An internationals Study of Promising Practices and a smaller CIHR funded one on Healthy Aging in Residential Places. Examined through the critical lens of feminist political economy, the neglected issues related to clothes and  the labour involved in their care are used to explore the myriad shifting political and economic dynamics experienced by staff, residents, families, volunteers and managers  of long-term care homes,  the impacts on the health-care system and the implications of health care reform.

Growing out of her research on women’s work and on health care, Armstrong has for more than a decade been researching issues relating to the lives of seniors and the work involved in their care. As of June 2016, she is a co-investigator on a four-year project, “Seniors Adding Life to Years” that received $2 million to study quality of life of seniors living in residential long-term care settings, their caregivers and supporters.

The book will be launched at a public event on May 30 at 4:30pm in Drama Room 7 of the Pantages Hotel, 200 Victoria St., Toronto. Intended to coincide with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the panel on privatization presented by members of the research team will be followed by a reception.