Death, Dying, and Credibility in Long-Term Care: How Healthcare Aides Were the Voiceless Other During the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Katherine Stelfox University of Calgary




Confronted by an unprecedented number of deaths in Long-Term Care (LTC) during the COVID-19 pandemic, society had no choice but to engage in a public discourse about the state of death and dying in LTC, and the staff who were caring for residents: healthcare aides. Despite being places where older adults die, death and dying has largely been hidden within LTC homes, serving to complicate and conceal healthcare aides’ experiences at a time when LTC residents were visibly dying. Although being the subject of public discourse, healthcare aides remained voiceless during the pandemic, their experiences of caring for dying residents overlooked by the testimony of experts. Instead of healthcare aides being invited into a conversation to share their unique knowledge of death and dying in LTC, namely through that of touch and practical wisdom, they experienced a lack of epistemic credibility, having been served a testimonial injustice.


healthcare aides, long-term care, death and dying, testimonial injustice, hermeneutic philosophy

Author Biography

Katherine Stelfox, University of Calgary

Katherine Stelfox is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary, and is supervised by Dr. Lorraine Venturato. Katherine is a practicing registered nurse in long-term care, and her doctoral research seeks to better understand healthcare aides’ experiences with death and dying in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic.