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Aspects Of Health Essay

1525 words - 7 pages

In 2011, the Census for England and Wales found that 10% of usual residents were informal carers. Of these people 37% were spending in excess of 20 hours per week performing caring roles, which is an increase from 32% in the 2001 Census (Office for National Statistics, 2011). This essay will discuss the Government’s National Policy ‘Helping Carers Stay Healthy’ policy, which was published by The Department of Health on 25th March 2013 (Department of Health, 2013). The research to date has tended to focus more on financial issues affecting carers rather than focusing on their physical and mental health, which is problematic when so many carers report health problems. A Survey conducted for ...view middle of the document...

At first glance this policy appears to represent a social democratic approach, recognising that informal care is essential but that carers need to be supported to maintain their own health and wellbeing. The Sutherland Commission, established by the Labour Government make the recommendation that the state be solely financially responsible for all aspects of personal care and that individuals and their families take responsibility for housing and other general living costs. Unfortunately, Stewart Sutherland the author of the report, stated that ten years since its publication very little seems to have changed (The Guardian, 2009).

However, informal carers are estimated to ‘save the economy £119 billion per year, an average of £18,473 per carer’ (Carers UK, 2012) and therefore it seems to fit more with laissez-faire approaches to the welfare state. The Neo-Liberal perspective holds that the state should not intervene in people’s lives; individuals and their families should take responsibility for their own welfare and that private enterprise should be allowed to flourish. They believe that state intervention ultimately leads to economic recession and the only method of resolving this is to minimise public spending and reducing the level of intervention of the state in peoples’ lives (Alcock, 2008).

Neo-Liberals go further, by arguing that if the state provides welfare services for everyone then this will mean people are less inclined to provide these for themselves or their families. They term this a ‘culture of dependency’ and go further to say that not only will people be less motivated to provide for themselves, but that they will be effectively trapped in a situation where they are reliant on the state provision (Alcock, 2008). These arguments are associated with those of Charles Murray (Murray, 1984) the American theorist, who talked about the support offered by the state being more attractive than individuals supporting themselves and their family members. This argument is further strengthened by when the state provides means-tested benefits where the financial benefits are awarded based on individual income. Therefore when people return to work or increase their working hours this leads to a loss or reduction of benefits; this is a recognised issue – the poverty trap.

It could be argued that the Helping Carers Stay Healthy is not an effective policy and appears to be more of a box-ticking exercise, for example, in my work place carers assessments should be offered, but in practice they are hardly ever mentioned or offered. They are generally viewed as pointless by the workers because if it is identified that an informal carer has support needs, the worker is limited in what support they can offer due to financial and organisational constraints, which clearly shows that the policy is not inclusive. Arguments in favour of informal care as the main method of care delivery have focused mainly on its advantages and from the perspective...

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