Healthcare workers ‘on the move’: making visible the employment-related geographic mobility of healthcare workers

Jackson, Lois and Price, Sheri and Barber, Pauline Gardiner and Kruisselbrink, Audrey and Leiter, Michael and Nourpanah, Shiva and Bourgeault, Ivy (2019) Healthcare workers ‘on the move’: making visible the employment-related geographic mobility of healthcare workers. Health Sociology Review. ISSN 1839-3551

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Many healthcare workers are ‘on the move’ as part of their employment, travelling often great distances to such places as patients’/clients’ homes and community clinics. Healthcare workers’ experiences of this employment-related geographic mobility have been relatively invisible even though mobility is necessary for home and community care. Interviews with professional (e.g. nurses) and paraprofessional (e.g. personal care assistants) healthcare workers in Nova Scotia (Canada) found that mobility includes safety risks, and health and economic costs, although a few professionals had employment contracts that helped to protect them against such risks and costs. Paraprofessionals appear to be most impacted by the economic costs given their lower incomes. Many healthcare workers also experienced travel positively, as time away from fixed sites, and associated this time with freedom. The risks of mobility were understood by some workers as part of a duty to care, but a few suggested that the health and economic costs are an undue burden, pointing to an opening for challenging these conditions. There is a need for regulations to ensure all healthcare workers are safe as they are mobile to and from fixed sites, and do not have to shoulder the health or economic costs of mobility.

Item Type: Article
Item ID: 14022
Keywords: Geographic mobility, healthcare workers, gender, invisible labour, duty of care, health and safety risks, health and economic costs
Department(s): Divisions > On the Move Partnership
Date: 16 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
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