CARE: challenges and solutions for a sustainable future
1st and 2nd April 2020 in Sheffield, UK

Care: challenges and solutions for a sustainable future

Around the world, arrangements for the care of people who need help to manage daily life are evolving. Care is needed ‘at home’ and ‘across continents’; it must meet the needs of individuals and of families and communities; it must be possible alongside paid work and connect with health services. It can occur at any life stage, is of incalculable value, yet comes at no small cost; its consequences for families and social relations truly matter.

Changing families, longer lives and shifting economic and policy contexts lie behind this evolution. Yet today, care arrangements are not sustainable; too often they fail to deliver wellbeing. Forms of care work are diversifying, yet care remains low status work. Users offered ‘choice’ face rationed services. Public systems are under strain, market actors struggle and the role of technologies remains unclear.

Organised by the Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems team based in the UK, this conference offers a space for critical analysis, constructive debate and forward thinking. It will provide ‘food for thought’ and a guide to action for researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and all who consider decent care a vital issue of our time. We hope you will join us.

Professor Sue Yeandle, University of Sheffield

Key dates

Registration and tickets

Early bird (1st November 2019- 17th January 2020)- £290.00
Early Bird- Sustainable Care partner- £230.00
Early Bird- PhD also attending pre-conference (details online soon)- £110.00

Standard (18th January 2020- 20th March 2020)- £330.00
Standard- Sustainable Care partner- £270.00
Standard- PhD also attending pre-conference (details online soon)- £140.00

The conference fee includes breaks and lunch, conference materials, certification for participation (if required), access to all conference sessions and the conference dinner on Wednesday 1st April at Sheffield Town Hall. Travel costs and accommodation are not included.

Abstract submission

For your paper to be considered for inclusion in the conference, please complete the form for submitting abstracts. Please ensure you indicate the theme of your choice and provide the name(s) and affiliations of author(s); your title; up to 5 key words; and a 250 word abstract summarising the content of your paper.

Conference organisers will review all abstracts submitted by 16th September 2019 5pm BST and notify authors whose papers are accepted by 1st November 2019. Early bird registration will open at this time.

If your paper is accepted, at least one author should attend the conference to present it. Presenting authors will need to book their place at the conference by 17th January 2020 for their paper to be included in the conference programme.

At the conference, presenters will have 15 minutes to present their paper in a chaired session organised to allow for presentation of 4 papers and 30 minutes of Q&A / discussion. For each theme, we will offer up to 4 sessions.

Note: If more papers are offered than can be accepted, we may invite you to provide a poster for display at the conference with an opportunity to discuss your work with other delegates.

For more information, or to discuss your abstract please contact Kelly Davidge


1. Inequalities in care: global, local and transnational dynamics in an age of migration

The giving and receiving of care is characterised by a myriad of inequalities spanning social, spatial and economic dimensions. In the contexts of contemporary migration, long-standing patterns of inequalities are being re-shaped and new ones are emerging. This is happening through the complex interplay of global, local and transnational dynamics, rendering sustainable solutions for more equal care arrangements and relationships particularly challenging

To be eligible for this theme:

  • Papers should focus on one or more of: migrant care workers; ageing migrants; left-behind family members; or carers with transnational responsibilities (or any of these topics in combination).
  • Papers may examine the geo-political and policy configurations producing and re-producing inequalities; living with / negotiating inequalities; and / or strategies to address inequalities;
  • Papers are welcome from any discipline, and may be relevant to any region of the world.
  • Papers should consider conceptual, methodological, empirical, policy or practice issues, and may discuss single case-studies or present comparative analysis.

Theme conveners: Majella Kilkey (University of Sheffield, UK) and Louise Ryan (University of Sheffield, UK).

Team leading this theme: Loretta Baldassar (University of Western Australia, Australia); Weronika Kloc-Nowak (University of Warsaw, Poland); Li-Fang Liang (Dong-Hwa University, Taiwan); Ito Peng (University of Toronto, Canada).

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2. Work, care and wellbeing: new solutions, ongoing challenges

Increasing numbers of people combine paid work with caring for a family member or friend who needs help to manage illness, disability or other long-term difficulties, yet these workers continue to face particular challenges. Many struggle with balancing paid work with their caring role, with damaging consequences for themselves that may also affect those they care for or work with. Problems can include:

  • Maintaining their own health and wellbeing
  • Progressing in their job or career
  • Arranging flexible working or taking time off to enact caring responsibilities
  • Securing suitable support or services for the person they care for
  • Managing communications in complex and changing circumstances

Solutions to some of these difficulties are emerging: employee wellness programmes; organisational schemes offering support to working carers; imaginative IT or technological solutions; care services tailored to individual needs. This theme will explore promising solutions, ongoing challenges, and the consequences of combining work and care, as this experience becomes more common around the world.

To be eligible for this theme, papers:

  1. Should address one or more of the issues indicated above.
  2. Are welcome from any discipline and may relate to any country or region of the world.
  3. May present evidence about one or more organisations, or about a specific group of workers.
  4. Papers that consider the changing world of paid work (remote working, precarious jobs, self-employment, etc.), and how new ways of working are affecting the lives and wellbeing of working carers, are especially welcome.
  5. Papers which critically discuss the concept of wellbeing in relation to working carers are encouraged.

Theme conveners: Attracta Lafferty (University College Dublin) and Kate Hamblin (University of Sheffield)

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3. Technology in care: opportunities and obstacles in place-based care contexts

Care at home, to support independent living and ageing in place, is a growing challenge around the world. In some systems unmet need is increasing, with public funding stretched to breaking point, increasing reliance on private provision, home care staff hard to recruit and carers under pressure. Industry experts and governments hail technological innovation as an important and sustainable way of addressing these challenges.

Already, assistive technologies help many people with support needs to engage in everyday activities; they seem certain to play a role in how care is experienced in the future. Yet barriers to uptake remain, scaling up and investment are slow, and what new digital, AI (artificial intelligence)/robotic and other developments offer is unclear. Technology needs to address older people’s and their carers’ needs in design and functionality. This theme addresses the question: ‘What will technologies relevant to care look like, and how will they address emerging challenges of capacity in care arrangements and support wellbeing outcomes?

Papers in this theme will explore how technologies can support those providing informal and formal care to care more effectively. Topics may include the role of technology in: improving reconciliation between paid work and caring; reducing care-related health problems; supporting caring at a distance; and improve communication between caregivers and care recipients. Papers are also invited that consider: the role of technologies in providing care in rural areas and/or addressing rural/urban polarisation; data protection and privacy issues; and its potential for delivering better home care.

To be eligible for this theme, papers should:

  • Offer novel theoretical, empirical or methodological contributions about how technologies, broadly defined, can support sustainability of arrangements for older and/or disabled people living at home;
  • Contribute to understanding of how technologies can enhance wellbeing outcomes for those involved in care (care users, carers, care workers, or others who provide care);
  • Draw on any relevant discipline, based on research or policy developments in any region of the world.

Theme conveners: Matthew Lariviere (University of Sheffield) and Andreas Hoff (Zittau-Görlitz University, Germany)

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4. Care markets: how and for whom do they work?

Market instruments are now widely used to organise and distribute formal care services to older people and people with disabilities, raising important questions about crucial issues:

  • The adequacy of care markets: do they meet the needs of the target populations? Are some populations and sub-populations served better than others?
  • The design and operation of care markets: how are different care markets designed? Are some designs better than others – and are all better than the systems they replaced?
  • Diversity in care markets: does marketisation lead to an innovative and differentiated range of services that can meet people’s diverse needs, or does it lead to isomorphism and conservatism?
  • Navigation of care markets: how do people access the services they need? Are there equity issues in people’s ability to access marketised care?
  • Oversight of care markets: can the state effectively commission and regulate marketised services?

To be eligible for this theme:

  • Papers should address one of the above topics (or several of these in combination), preferably with a focus on the role of markets in the sustainability of care arrangements or in delivering wellbeing outcomes for older and disabled people and those who support or assist them.
  • Papers are welcome from any discipline
  • Papers may relate to a single country or region of the world, or used to present comparative analysis.

Theme conveners: Professor Gabrielle Meagher (Macquarie University) and Professor Catherine Needham (University of Birmingham)

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5. Sustainable care at home: understanding the ‘care mix’

Home care supporting older and/or disabled people is characterised by a mix of different types of care work and activities, including formal care services, regular care work in private households, irregular ‘grey market’ activities and care provided by family, friends or neighbours.

This ‘care mix’ involves different types of care work and people in a variety of relations to one another. It is embedded in cultures, demographic circumstances and national policies on immigration and long-term/social care, and thus differs between countries.

Papers in this theme stream will examine the determinants and consequences of the ‘care-mix’ in different national contexts, exploring care worker, carer or care user perspectives (or a combination of these).

To be eligible for this theme, papers should:

  • Identify how the ‘care mix’ relates to national policies in one country, or offer cross-national comparisons
  • Discuss its effects on those who provide and/or receive care, highlighting applicable patterns of inequalities (such as those related to gender, migration, ethnicity or social background)
  • Consider the implications of the care mix studied for the sustainability of care arrangements

Theme conveners: Hildegard Theobald (University of Vechta, Germany) and Shereen Hussein (University of Kent)

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6. Caring relations: toward sustainable arrangements with wellbeing outcomes

In recent decades, rhetorics of ‘rights and responsibilities’, ‘independence and autonomy’, and ‘choice and control’ have often dominated discussions of care. An important response to the rightful claims of disabled people, this has focused attention on the support for individuals. Carers, too, have laid claim to recognition, in some jurisdictions securing modest legislative responses. Less discussed, especially in relation to resource allocation and care planning, have been the networks and ‘convoys’ of relationships in which people with support needs and carers are embedded, and how these contribute to wellbeing outcomes.

This theme will debate broad themes, such as how caring responsibility is allocated, distributed and accepted or rejected; who takes, or may refuse, to meet care needs; and the relevance of concepts of wellbeing in developing policies about care and assessing their outcomes and potential sustainability.

To be eligible for this theme:

  • Papers should engage with the concept of ‘caring relations’ and aim to progress debates about divisions of caring labour; the political economy of care; care ethics, rights, recognition and values; and / or the emotional, familial, community and inter-generational context for caring relations.
  • They should engage with relevant theories of care, exploring concepts such as inequality, difference, fairness, vulnerability, or reciprocity.
  • Papers that debate large issues [such as ‘caring democracy’ (Tronto, 2013); ‘a caring society’ (Fine, 2007); care and social justice (Williams, 2018)], which engage critically with concepts of wellbeing are welcomed.
  • We particularly encourage papers that discuss how these concepts and ideas are, or could be, applied in different national contexts.

Theme conveners: Sue Yeandle (University of Sheffield) and Allister McGregor (University of Sheffield).

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Submit here

For any questions regarding themes or submissions, please contact Kelly Davidge

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