A new book that aims to give an in-depth look and insight into the home care sector has revealed a workforce that often feels underappreciated and undervalued.
The book, which is largely based on interviews with home care staff workers, was put together by socio-legal researcher and author Lydia Hayes.
Stories of Care: A Labour of Law is a book that argues that the heavily dominated female and working-class profession suffers from numerous problems, such as low pay, poor status and a lack of respect.
Hayes, along with a number of her researchers, interviewed 30 different home care workers across the country to gather a general overall image of how the job is perceived by its staff and what staff deal with on a daily basis.
These interviews were analysed and formed the foundation of the book itself, which is split into four distinct sections, each covering a major problem that is seemingly felt across all the home care workers interviewed.
The first section concerns itself with the issue of pay, of which many feel they are underpaid for the work they provide on a daily basis.
“A lot of people still look at us as cleaners or the general dogsbody,” said one of the home care staff members interviewed.
Another section of the book focuses on how despite the issues, many care workers do enjoy the work they provide, and see their work as essential to help the older community.
The final chapter looks at how workers engage with care policy.
“The government talks about home care as though it is an activity that saves money because it reduces so-called ‘bed blocking’ and is cheaper than institutionalised care,” said Hayes.
Hayes also stressed her annoyance that home care workers are often left out of discussions about their sector, despite being the people who keep the sector functioning.
“They are not involved in those discussions, because their opinions and knowledge appear to count for nothing. It’s hardly surprising that home care workers feel undervalued and unconfident.”
What needs to change?
Hayes argues that for change for the people in the sector to happen, then the law needs to be changed to allow workers a greater say in the management of the system.
“Homecare workers need to be involved in formulating policy, to be able to influence the sector and secure [employment] contracts that recognise their skills, dedication and importance,” she said.
She suggests that this could be achieved by having select home care workers acting as elected representatives, who would then be able to have a say in government to better champion the needs of the sector’s workers.
“Making care a collective responsibility was the massive achievement of the 20th century; it enabled people to have more choices about the way they live their lives. In the 21st century, that system is being destroyed,” said Hayes.
“We need to protect social care, and to respect and value care work. That means we need changes to labour law.”
We here at Home Caring are a Bondi Junction based home care service that always looks out for our dedicated team of home care workers that always go above and beyond the call. If you would like to know how our team can help you, get in contact today.