Balancing work and family: Perspectives of employed individuals providing care to adults with special needs
This thesis focuses on the emerging issues surrounding individuals balancing paid employment with caregiving to adults (ages 18-64 years) with special needs. Special needs are defined as chronic and/or continuing health problems, mental and/or physical disabilities. Combining adult care (to an adult child or sibling) with paid employment is a distinctly non-normative experience and there has been little research encompassing these issues. The conceptual framework guiding this thesis draws from the research on multiple roles, and spillover effects. The salience of providing care to an adult with special needs is examined for the first time in a Canadian context utilizing a secondary data analysis of the Canadian Research Aging Network (CARNET) Work and Family Survey 1991-2. In addition to developing a profile of the employed respondents' responsibilities, this thesis examines (a) the spillover effects as measured by job, career and personal costs among and between groups of care providers, (b) the utilization of workplace resources that help caregivers manage the competing demands of work and family responsibilities, (c) similarities and differences in the provision of family-based care to adults with special needs by employed parents and by siblings in respect to the type and intensity of care provided, the duration of caregiving, and the likelihood of co-residency. Future directions for research in the area of work and caregiving to adults with special needs should consider these responsibilities from a gender perspective, and examine the importance of a life course analysis for the caregiving "career". Equally important is locating long term caregiving in its boarder Canadian context to define the formal social programs and workplace benefits that can best support the growing number and diversity of families who work and provide care.