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Walking the Line: Navigating Market and Gift Economies of Care in a Consumer‐Directed Home‐Based Care Program for Older Adults

Journal Article
December 9, 2015

This articles is based on surveys of workers and consumers in California’s In-Home Supportive Services program to determine whether the workers were ever expected to provide unpaid care, and if so, to explore the implications of such an arrangement. The authors found that IHSS workers frequently provide “gift” care, regardless of whether they are related to their consumer. The authors note that IHSS cuts seem to target live-in workers who are related to their consumers, thereby placing an increased burden on them to provide unpaid care.

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Key Takeaways

"Related and nonrelated caregivers are often expected to 'gift' hours of care above and beyond what is compensated by formal services."
"Caregivers cannot always compensate for cuts in formal supports by providing uncompensated time and resources."
"Low‐income older adults are not competitive in the caregiving marketplace and often depend on unpaid care."
 
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