Family life and informal care within eldercare: Couples with unequal care needs in assisted living

In 2012, a co-habitation guarantee came to place in Sweden as a response to older couples being unwillingly separated during a partner’s move to assisted living. The guarantee gives needs-tested older people the right to continue living with their spouse in assisted living as part of a reasonable standard of life, regardless if the accompanying spouse is relatively healthy. Yet assisted living residences are ambiguous environments. They are simultaneously the couple’s home, a shared space with other needs-tested older people, and a workplace for care staff. The aim of this project is to add knowledge about the conditions for family life and care at the intersection of the private and the public spheres in assisted living residences where couples with unequal care needs live. The project aims to contribute to knowledge on the limits and possibilities for the couple’s family life, as well as the role of spousal care to their integrity and privacy. The caring role of the accompanying spouse will be examined and how this is negotiated in an environment characterized by formal care.

This research is supported by FORTE, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Contact: Joy Torgé