A Brief History of the Care Industry
Health and social care once had its history in humble beginnings. Care work was originally a part of the domestic realm, and was later adopted into religions as part of their charity, with some funding from the Empire. It extended not far beyond poorhouses, orphanages and asylums. Now the industry is enormous, largely privatized and encompasses all aspects of life, not just essential day to day activities.
It is also one that is heavily tangled up in political affairs, and changing governments and changing societies can greatly affect its direction. More recently, changing attitudes can in part can be accredited to John O’Brien’s Five Service Accomplishments, a guideline which is aimed at improving the quality of care service users receive in allowing people to live the most fulfilling and independent lives possible.
Just as care work now caters to a larger population, so does the activities involved in working in care, including helping those achieve qualifications, learn new skills, take part in hobbies and marking special events in social calendars. These all pertain to O’Brien’s key principles of choice, competence and respect. Care work is moving away from mere practicalities and offering a more comprehensive package for everyday living, targeting people’s unique tastes and interests and emphasising the need for tailored services.
The Importance of a Strong Community Presence
However, O’Brien’s guidelines do not just cater to the individual, they target the community, and integration is a key message, stating that carers should harness their powers to assist in fortifying relationships with those who are non-disabled. Despite almost every person in the country knowing somebody with a mental illness, learning difficulty or physical disability, such individuals are often marginalized by society, and do not receive significant media coverage which in turn can foster a climate of fear and ignorance, an exacerbating cycle.
A carer’s job now tackles issues such as awareness and discrimination, and service users are encouraged not to shy away from more challenging, yet meaningful aspects of life, such as deciding where to live and who to live with, and, where possible, being involved in planning their own care.
Providing service users with these choices allows for a more confident and autonomous individual who can better thrive within their community. In turn they provide a more realistic portrait of what life is really like for those who are physically or mentally unwell or challenged, breaking down social prejudices and barriers.
Transcending The Basic Requirements
O’Brien’s five principles for understanding and providing great care is one of the most recent models adopted by the health and social care service industry. And much like the constantly evolving world of science, medicine and politics, so too does the care industry adapt, in order to work towards the most pleasant and expressive environment for service users within our society. As long any new policies and changes, whether considered conventional or radical, adhere to these guidelines, this sector will be able to focus on doing what it does best; caring for those who need it the most in spite of the ever-present influence of often ill-motivated outside parties.
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Jo Tannen studied as a nurse before moving into the care sector and specialises in helping the elderly adapt to life in a new care home. She regularly writes advice articles with the help of the team at St Georges Agency, a care agency based in Essex.