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  Winter 2010

 Who Cares?
A Column on Caregiving by Beverley Smith


Gov Overlooks Funding for Caregivers We Trust

The National Childcare Accreditation Council in Australia has released results of its inspections of 1539 ‘long daycare’ centres.  11% failed inspection.  10% failed to protect and properly supervise the children or to keep electrical cords and plugs shielded. Another 10% did not store, handle or serve food properly or wash their hands after changing diapers, wiping noses or before serving food.

A call to provide better care and lower staff ratios has however been resisted by some daycares.  ABC Learning says it would have to charge $20 more per child per day to comply with child care proposals.  Early Childhood Australia says government should endorse higher standards.  The government has now committed to giving $22 million over four years just to devise common national standards.

~ Wow~ they not only fund daycare and give tax breaks to daycare users but now they also fund a huge regulatory system just to devise standards! Then of course they need a huge inspection system. I approve of standards when we’re asked to trust strangers, but the element of funding people we already trust– parents, relatives – is missing and should be included ~ Beverley


Caregivers of Elderly Need Time and Money

Some analysts suggest that what caregivers of the elderly need most is ‘respite’ service. But recent studies question that priority. 

Investors Group did a poll of elder caregivers (aged 43-63) for 500 Canadians. 69% still have at least one parent or parent-in-law living. 33% drive this person to doctor’s appointments and do household chores and banking for them.  On average elder care takes 42 hours and 225 km of travel per month.  

40% of elder caregivers spend $98 per month or $6,000 per year on this care. The biggest problem is not the money, however, but the time required. This is time out of one’s own paid work and pension plans. Yet the caregivers did not resent this time and money. 67% said they owe their parent this time for having raised them. And over 60% said the caregiving has brought them closer to their parents.  

The need is not respite from caregiving but recognition for it. The real problem is the financial cost of devoting this time – the reduction in one’s own income and pension.  Taking care of an aging parent is like a part-time job.

Elder care will likely become more important in the future. Between 2001 and 2006 the number of seniors aged over 80 exceeded one million . Those living past age 100 is also rising. “Elder care is not necessarily a short term commitment,” says Maureen Osis, author of “Your Aging Parents.”


Eldercare Is Now Big Business, Selling Franchises To Providers

Right at Home has 182 US franchises. Staff offer some medical services. A US franchise costs $35,000. Franchiser holders pay 5% of their revenue to the company.  

Home Instead Senior Care was founded in 1994 in the US. It now operates in 14 foreign countries. It offers no medical services. It markets to doctors and lawyers who deal with seniors, rather than to families directly. Ken Deary who operated a McDonald’s restaurant franchise for ten years will head the UK expansion.

Dreary says the British National Health service has become overwhelmed with requests from the elderly for homecare. There is enough business for both companies. Franchiser holders pay 5% royalty to the parent company also.  

~ An ideal system would be to fund the elderly who need care and let them pay relatives, friends or big business. I do not think government should assume only the profit-making side of the industry or in any way only subsidize that ~ Beverley


Moms Want More Time at Home

Christina Odone of the UK has released results of a poll about government policy for parents. Commissioned from YouGov, the poll found that 12% of  women would prefer to earn full time; 31% would prefer to be home full time with young children. The rest of moms wanted a blend.  

80% of women were not happy with a government agenda urging women to do more paid work when their children were young.  Odone says that government is not responding to what women really want. Instead it is trying to reshape women’s wishes to the workplace.  

“The establishment is determined to fashion British women in its own mould: autonomous units of production rather than creators of and investors in social capital.”  She prefers government to recognize the personal sacrifice of women at home, and stop penalizing women there. She also wants the gov to stop preferentially subsidizing women who use 3rd party care.

~ Researchers suggest that emotional upheaval, with chronic stress aggravate asthma. With increased rates of asthma in children, I think we should look at how we are stressing little kids by taking them from their parents early. ~ Beverley


Reading to the Dog

Judy Winter, a teacher’s aide in an Edmonton elementary school, noticed that some students clammed up when reading out loud—often for fear of making a mistake.  She started to bring along her little dog named Peanut. The children were not afraid to make a mistake when reading to the dog.  And they started to enjoy reading. 

Winter asked the public library to permit people to bring dogs and cats to the library too.  The Paws for a Story program now operates for children aged 6-12 years. The Pet Therapy Society helps make arrangements. The program now operates at 14 of the 17 city libraries.

~ I have noticed that some children read to their dolls or to other younger children who may not realize what is a mistake. This experience of being the mentor is very good for a learner  ~ Beverley


Irish Child Benefit

The present Irish child benefit is 166 euros a month, or 1992 euros per year.  (That is about $225 a month, $2704 a year. This is significantly more than the US or Canada provide (zero child benefit) but lower than the actual cost of raising a child.


One Day to Celebrate Care Work 

In Auckland New Zealand Debbie Stenzel and Tracey Williams feel that much of what is vital is actually unpaid work. In 2005 they created a Friendly Girls Society, along with Amanda O’Hara a sister artist.  

The society chooses one day a year to celebrate ‘unheralded work’ and the value of unpaid labor. They include child-rearing, housework and cooking. They create interactive art projects which encourage the public to add to the exhibition (with flowers, flags etc). They want to motivate discussion of the ‘post-modern meaning of benevolence.”

 ~ I would urge more political teeth to such a lobby, but it’s a start. ~ Beverley



Randy Albelda and Mignon Duff of the U of Massachusetts released results of a study on Nov 2009 looking at care work. The found that in the local area:

•  22% of all jobs are paid care work jobs 

•  The care industry contributes 13% of the GDP for the state 

•  Massachusetts residents provide 24.9 million hours a day of unpaid care work. If paid, this would provide jobs for 3.1 million full time workers 

•  If unpaid care work were paid care work the value would be $151.6 billion annually in Massachusetts 

•  All care, both paid and unpaid, account for 36% of the GDP of the state 

•  Women provide 75% of the paid care work 

•  Women provide 64% of the unpaid care work

The researchers also made 3 observations. The benefit of caregiving is not just to the care receiver or family, but to the effective functioning of society.  Outcomes of caregiving, educating and tending to health needs have wide repercussions

Beverley Smith bevgsmith@gmail.com
521-18 A St. NW ; Calgary Alberta Canada T2N2H3



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