Project Info: Aims and Project Participants

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented strains on formal and informal care work, worldwide. Paradoxically, the pandemic created new jobs and possibilities in care work, but the jobs remain physically and mentally strenuous, low paid, and often with fixed-term, precarious contracts and high turnover rates. These jobs present significant health risks for workers, given the potential to contact and spread the virus.  

Our project will focus on employees performing vital COVID-19 related jobs: providing individual care to vulnerable clients in both organisational and home settings. We will examine how diverse people (in Finland, Canada, Scotland/UK and South Africa) who work/have worked in formal and informal care address challenges by collaboratively examining their ideas to ease risks and develop opportunities to deliver and receive care.  Specifically, we will analyse how care workers in precarious positions (women, LGBTI2SQ people, and migrant status or minority ethnic people) are experiencing COVID-19 crises in their work, and how they see a post-pandemic future. Our research is based on the United Nations (UN) research recovery roadmap and aims at reducing inequalities and vulnerabilities, and building a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable society. 

We will apply both quantitative and innovative qualitative methods to investigate how care sector workers have experienced the pandemic and how they see their post-pandemic times at work. Research participants will explore their working lives during and after the pandemic. We will conduct a cross-cultural narrative analysis with an intersectionality approach using longitudinal participatory methods (focus groups, photo/voice, interviews). This information will be supplemented with a systematic literature review and secondary data. In collaboration with stakeholders, we will develop policy recommendations and share good practices with institutions and services responsible for care workers. Our collaborative approach with all stakeholders will provide sustainable suggestions and policy recommendations that should have worldwide application. 

Length of project: May 2022 – Sept 2024

Research Teams:

University of Helsinki, Finland (Funded by the Academy of Finland)

Marjut Jyrkinen (Lead PI), Professor of Working Life Equality and Gender Studies, Faculty of Arts, Department of Cultures, Gender Studies 

Jukka Lehtonen, Senior Researcher

Tytti Steel, Postdoctoral Researcher

E-mail addresses: ; apart from jukka.p.lehtonen@****

Research team’s focus is on vulnerable care worker groups such as LGBTI people, migrant and migrant background people, and under 25 and 55+ women. Data is produced with interviews, photovoice method, and narrative survey, also existing survey data is used. We collaborate with trade unions and NGOs in finding participants and disseminating the results.

Lakehead University, Canada 

Kathy Sanderson (PI), Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business Administration 

University of Cape Town, South Africa

Floretta Boonzaier (PI), Professor in Psychology, Department of Psychology,

Mandisa Malinga, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology

University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Carmine Rustin, Lecturer, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies

Students on the project (2022):

Kina Lakhani, Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town

Veneka Paradza, Department of Psychology, University of Cape Town

The South African component of the TAP project focusses on care work undertaken by informal caregivers viz. domestic workers (both local and migrant) performing essential COVID-19 related jobs by providing individual care in the home. The researchers have partnered with the South African Domestic Services and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU) on this project. The project is framed within a feminist decolonial approach and employs a range of participatory methodologies including photovoice and digital storytelling.

King’s College London, United Kingdom

Linda McKie (PI), Professor of Social and Public Policy, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine