Returning to my past: caring in a crisis

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What was it like to care for older residents in a care home during the COVID-19 pandemic? Care work was in crisis before the pandemic, which brought the fragility of the UK's healthcare system and those who work in it to the fore. I recount my experiences in a care home with isolated older people during the early months of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In this autoethnography, I consider my attempt to prioritize isolated older care home residents' personhood alongside the complexities of caring during an inordinately physically and emotionally precarious time. While neglecting some aspects of my own needs, I describe how care work, while rewarding, can reproduce the already ingrained inequalities that characterize it. I argue that sensing absence as experienced by older people can be a means to help reduce some of their isolation and loneliness. During my time caring during the pandemic, time to care was corroded, further frustrating what care should be. Through my autoethnographic account of caring during the pandemic, I argue that the well-being needs of caregivers alongside care receivers should be acknowledged as an integral aspect of care. [caring, COVID-19, absence, care home, isolation].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalAnthropology and Humanism
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023


  • Caring
  • COVID-19
  • Absence
  • Care home
  • Isolation


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