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1 - Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 April 2022

Bethany Simmonds
Affiliation:
University of Portsmouth
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Summary

Contextualising care

Throughout our lives, we all want to give and receive care, particularly at the beginning and the end. The expectation that there will be someone to care for us in later life is almost universal. Women were, and still are, usually tasked with this role, due to what is viewed as their ‘naturally’ existing caring nature (Hayes, 2017: 80–1). The daily activities of cleaning, cooking, washing and feeding have often been taken for granted and rendered invisible within social structures. Little value has been placed on these life-sustaining tasks (The Care Collective, 2020). Waves of feminism have highlighted the injustices of care work being feminised, devalued and not recognised as ‘work’ (Hayes, 2017). Yet, women are still providing most of the care for relatives in the family as well as in outside agencies, being paid to provide care services in either domiciliary settings or within residential institutions (Bunting, 2020). Thus, the historical connotations of care work being of low value and feminised have continued. Both formally and informally, women are overwhelmingly those still doing health and social care work with older people (Bunting, 2020). This, coupled with endemic ageism in society (Ayalon and Tesch-Romer, 2018), is arguably how neoliberal governments have successfully justified the low value and pay associated with health and care work, and the low political priority given to the care of older people. In the spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the years of underfunding, understaffing and privatisation within the sector to devastating effect, as thousands of older people died needlessly in the UK and around the world (The Care Collective, 2020). The care of people with the least power in society mirrors broader political values. As Sevenhuijsen (1998: 4) states:

The nursing home can be seen as a microcosm of a wider political community, in which, as citizens we are continually invited to pass political judgements on the quality of public and private care provision and many different aspects of human social existence.

The treatment of the most vulnerable members of society in this pandemic does not present the UK government in a good light and will hopefully lead to a transformation of health and social care services.

Type
Chapter
Information
Ageing and the Crisis in Health and Social Care
Global and National Perspectives
, pp. 1 - 8
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Introduction
  • Bethany Simmonds, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Ageing and the Crisis in Health and Social Care
  • Online publication: 30 April 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447348726.002
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  • Introduction
  • Bethany Simmonds, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Ageing and the Crisis in Health and Social Care
  • Online publication: 30 April 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447348726.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Bethany Simmonds, University of Portsmouth
  • Book: Ageing and the Crisis in Health and Social Care
  • Online publication: 30 April 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.46692/9781447348726.002
Available formats
×