When Foreign Domestic Helpers Care for and About Older People in Their Homes: I Am a Maid or a Friend

Ken H.M. Ho, Vico C.L. Chiang, Doris Leung, Ben H.B. Ku

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the lived experiences of foreign domestic helpers (FDH) working with community-dwelling older people in Hong Kong. Unstructured interviews were conducted with 11 female FDHs, and thematically analyzed. The theme inescapable functioning commodity represented the embodied commodification of FDHs to be functional for older people in home care. Another theme, destined reciprocity of companionship, highlighted the FDHs’ capacity to commit to home care and be concerned about older people. The waxing and waning of the possibilities of commodified companionship indicated the intermittent capacity of FDHs to find meaning in their care, in which performative nature for functional purposes and emotional engagement took turns to be the foci in migrant home care. This study addresses the transition of FDHs from task-oriented relation to companions of older people through care work. Discussion draws on the development of a kin-like relationship between FDHs and older people with emotional reciprocity grounded in moral values.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Qualitative Nursing Research
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2018


  • commodity
  • companion
  • foreign domestic helper
  • home care
  • kin-like relationship
  • older people
  • phenomenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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