Accepted Paper:

Controlled Acts: Caring for the Feeding Tube  

Author:

Drew Danielle Belsky (York University)

Paper short abstract:

Regulatory regimes in Canada fail to encompass the economic, social, and affective dimensions of the unglamourous yet vital work of feeding tubes in home care. Starting from mundane materialities, I consider strategies for collective care at the intersection of different spheres of feminized labour.

Paper long abstract:

Health care regulations in Ontario (Canada) delimit particular acts ("controlled acts") to regulated health professions such as nursing. Although administering feeding via G-tube is not a controlled act, in practice it is usually treated as such. This interpretive flexibility depends on the discursive misconstrual of both the feeding tube as object and tube feeding as act. In the context of home care, this routine technology becomes a site of contested agencies at the intersection of three different spheres of feminized labour - unpaid family caregivers, paid support workers, and professional nurses - as well as the bodies that are fed through the tube. Regulatory regimes fail to encompass the economic, social, and affective dimensions of the unglamourous yet vital work of feeding tubes. Articulations of accountability, expertise, and agency that shape both how and how much particular bodies can or should care for other bodies tend to omit the messy yet mundane materialities of plastic tubes and caps, sticky feed, and drip rates. Starting with these materialities, I consider "the conditions of possibility of care" (Martin et al., 2015, p. 10) and seek to "explore how these arrangements of care and power might be otherwise" (Martin et al., 2015, p. 4). What possibilities for acting might exist when we attend to the complex collective formations created in the spaces and activities of home care? What strategies for collective care might rework the organization of power and privilege that pits nurses, personal support workers, patients, and family caregivers against one another?

Panel T059
Making Worlds: Feminist STS and everyday technoscience