Intersectionality in Long Term Care

Intersectionality was first introduced as a concept in the late 1980s by Kimberelé Crenshaw, and it refers to intersecting identities of an individual’s social location. For example, intersectionality would involve studying the oppression a Black woman would face. One would not examine how this individual faces oppression due to her race and then examine the oppression she faces for being a woman, but instead explore the oppression she faces as a Black woman in society. Many scholars have studied the concept of intersectionality and the importance of understanding this concept. This does not mean the research surrounding intersectionality should end there, but rather that it is a continuously emerging concept.

When looking at intersectionality in Long-Term Care, it is crucial to understand that Long-Term Care residents come from a wide variety of social locations. Social location encompasses one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc., and no two people will have the same exact social location. It is essential to recognize this as this means everyone’s care plan in LTC will be different. Very few LTC residents fit into a “one size fits all” care plan as the needs, accessibility, and challenges everyone faces will be different.

Examining intersectionality in LTC can allow for a better understanding of the needs related to ageing and any unmet needs residents may have. Additionally, this examination can allow for better-equipped policies relating to equity in LTC. It will also enable Long-Term Care homes to be better prepared to appropriately deliver the care that will meet the needs of all residents of LTC, no matter their social location.

Even within Long-Term Care Homes, residents may experience disadvantages unique to them due to their intersecting identities. Many of the disadvantages residents experience are related to age intersecting with other aspects of their identities. For example, elderly women tend to have low incomes since men used to be the “breadwinners,” and women were supposed to stay home and take care of the home and kids, making these women more vulnerable to experiencing abuse.

Additionally, older adults who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community tend to feel alienated from the community. There seems to be the notion that only young people can identify as queer or trans, but this is not the case. Many residents of Long-Term Care Homes across the province do identify as queer. This is something that needs to be taken into consideration when caring for those individuals as it can impact the experiences this population has with social services such as health care, which can harm their health and threaten their identity.

Age and immigration status also needs to be examined when looking at intersectionality. One’s immigration status can sometimes affect and limit the healthcare they receive. For example, the fact that healthcare is usually only offered in the official languages (French and English) creates a barrier for persons who speak different languages.

Intersectionality is a topic that needs to be further investigated within Long-Term Care Homes. Many residents have intersecting identities, and it is vital to understand how these intersecting identities can affect the daily lives of these residents.

Author: D.R. (FCO Placement Student)