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Inadequate care is immoral

November 25, 2012

I’m not sure if I have written about my master’s thesis in a earlier post.  I graduated in 2008 so it has been a little while since I wrote my thesis.  It is called Work-Life Balance for Parents with Low Incomes.

I first became interested in work-life balance because in occupational therapy, we think about ways for people to have the time and energy to do the things they want to do as well as the things they need to do. Sometimes disabled people choose to ask for help to do some activities such as dressing so that they have the time and energy for activities that are more important to them such as work or socializing.  The choices of disabled children are often more constrained.  I will probably write about that on a different day.

Today I want to write about an interesting coincidence.  I am reading about ‘care’ and am coming across some of the articles that I referred to in my thesis.  As I was researching work-life balance, I found that the low value placed on care (of children, disabled people, ageing parents, co-workers etc.), contributed to people’s difficulties balancing their work and personal commitments.  I asserted that work-life balance would be more likely if our society valued the work of caregivers more than it does.  I believe that at that time, I was missing an important point.  Our society also needs to value children, disabled people, and ageing parents more than it does.

While writing “Work-Life Balance for Parents with Low Incomes”, I stated that our society’s tendency to dichotomize issues contributed to there even being an issue of balancing work with the rest of life.  Another dichotomy that I did not discuss at that time but am more aware of now is the artificial dichotomy of care givers and care receivers.  Most people are both care givers and care receivers.  Caring and being cared for are universal human experiences.  As such, it is morally right for care of disabled people to be more valued in our society.  Said another way, the lack of good quality care for many disabled people is immoral.



  1. Miriam Allen permalink

    Oops that first line was caring

  2. Miriam Allen permalink

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that carding for children, elderly or disabled people isn’t valuable work but somehow how different societies put monetary value on professions is strange and interesting. Even within our own province there are many wage scales for the same profession depending on how the maker of the scale sees the work and within those scales which professions that have a higher monetary value than others varies greatly. Getting back to paid caregivers those differences for equal positions can vary as much as one worker being paid more than 100% more than another. In our society we often see value as monetary so it is sometimes difficult to see that some of the most valuable work is that which is unpaid.

    • I agree that in our consumer society, we often see value as monetary. I am definitely guilty of this.

      I do think that sometimes paying someone more money to provide care can improve the care. Of course it depends on many factors such as
      – with a higher wage can the caregiver work fewer hours so that he or she can get his or her own needs met so that s/he can be more attentive to the care recipients’ needs?
      or – with a higher wage, will the caregiver be more willing to stay in the position longer thereby providing more stability of care?

      However, I think the real monetary costs for better care would come from increased training and supervision for the caregivers as well as increased time for each caregiver to spend with each care recipient (leading to a need for more paid caregivers and thereby leading to increased cost).

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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