Which made me happy, because I was a bit *gnng* on the topic as you know - not because I don't believe in it, but because it's, as one of my friends said, 'tackling a sacred cow', and that can often lead to the kind of opposition and angst you don't need when all you're trying to do is pass the bloody course with a decent mark, while retaining your own interest.
Anyway, I'll tuck that topic aside as a potential if I ever need it. Or one of you folks are welcome to it as well, because I do think it's worth studying. Also, 37/40 for the pre-nuptial birth essay + 17/20 for this means that I've already passed the course, given that the last 2 assignments are worth 10% and 30% respectively. Yay!
Yesterday's lecture was about caring for people with disabilities, and the way that's dealt with in policy here. A couple of things stood out to me in this. The first is an assumption relating to 'natural care' - this is the idea that family will naturally care for someone who needs it, and that the government should not interfere with this natural way of doing things. In practical terms, this means that people who may otherwise be paid to care for someone (professional carers for example) will not be entitled to payment for caring for a family member, because it's something they would 'naturally' do anyway. The second is how little say the person requiring care gets in defining what sort of care they need. This is apparently improving, but there's a strong focus on external needs assessment without taking into account individual dynamics within families.
The whole lecture was a bit depressing.
I sat there with the experience with Mum fresh in my mind, thinking about this natural care assumption. Of course it's natural for family members to want to care for their loved ones, right? And those that don't do this DO feel guilty about it, because it's obvious that by not doing the caring, we are showing we don't care, right? Wrong.
Like many things in my line of study, it's more complex than that. My Mum was a very independent woman, and when the time came that she needed help with basic day-to-day self care, the last thing she wanted was to have her children doing it. For a start, she knew how doing this would affect our lives, and given that she'd spent a big part of her life working to help us get where we are, she did not want to put us in the position of losing that to care for her. This would have affected her mental wellbeing no matter how much we felt it was worth it, or reassured her that we didn't mind. She would have known, and seen it as being a burden on us, and she didn't want that. Yes, we did discuss it and this is what she said. Also, there's a big difference when you need a shower, between having a professional nurse rub a flannel all over your body and having your son or daughter do it. A bit like the difference between getting naked in front of your doctor and getting naked in front of your brother, you know?
In some families, it is completely unnatural for family members to do the caring. Obviously all situations are different (ie, Mum's illness was different from if she had alzheimer's, say, and different again from caring for a child with severe cerebral palsy) - and this is why I think caring policy should take into account individual situations, and be based less on assumptions about what people 'should' do and more on practical ways to ensure the caree gets the care they need while retaining their autonomy in decision-making.
Another issue that came up was the lack of involvement of family by the services that exist to care for people who need it. The tutor mentioned a misdialled phone call she'd received, in which a woman vented her spleen on her before she got the chance to say "Wrong number." Turns out this woman's daughter, who had a mental illness, had been living in an assisted community flat. It had been decided that the daughter needed to be institutionalised, and the first her mother heard was when the daughter herself called her about it from the institution. The family had thought she was doing fine and next thing BANG! In an institution - no warning, no discussion. I'd be mad too.
This lack of communication with family is also familiar to me. I happened to comment at the end of the lecture that of all the organisations that were involved in Mum's care, the only one that consistently involved family was the hospice, which is a charitable trust, half funded by the government, half by donations and fundraising. And of course, the hospice's involvement starts when other healthcare professionals stop. The tutor suggested I look at this for my essay, which is an analysis of a government programme designed to benefit families. I can see how it's relevant, but when I started to look around for more info about the hospice, I hit an emotional brick wall. I just can't - it's too soon and whenever I look at the hospice website I just crumple.
Weird - I can stand up in front of potentially-hostile audiences and defend the right of men to be heard on feminist issues, but I can't write about a service that everyone agrees is bloody awesome without disintegrating emotionally.
So instead, I'm looking at the emotionally neutral (for me) Family Start programme, which is apparently under review by the current government after its equivalent in Hawai'i (from which our programme was modelled) copped flak for failing to reduce child abuse. That started in late 2009 and I haven't been able to find anything further on this review. Advice from seasoned researchers on where to find this info would be appreciated.
Tomorrow's lecture, the last for this course, is on dying. It will be tough but I think it's important that I go. Dunno why.
In other news, I realised that doing the business writing course this summer and scrapping Economics would reduce my degree by one course (read ~$800). So now I have options, I guess I'd better get off my backside and talk to someone about them.
Looks like the weather's falling apart. This gives it a chance to come right for the weekend. On which I will dance oh yes yes I will.
PS those who would speak with authority on things they know nothing about, and tell those that do know that they are wrong, are talking out of their arses and should STFU and educate themselves. I'm guilty of this occasionally. Are you?