In all of the sectors I have worked in previously – retail, security, technology, distribution, insurance, automotive and, of course, the accounting profession – people are invested in, trained and valued; some more than others but all to an extent are cared about and cared for. The ‘personhood’ of individuals in the various corporate teams is a key responsibility for the leaders of those teams. If the individuals are right, the team is right and on most occasions the objectives will be met.
Now that I am part of the care sector, albeit in a supernumerary capacity, I anticipated that the same or perhaps even more caring would be the norm for the most important asset (glib I know) than in other sectors. Not for the first time in my fledgling care career, I have been wrong.
Personhood is a key theme of some fascinating research being carried out by a team at UCL in their MARQUEProject. The study was a focus at a recent meeting about Professional Care Worker’s Day which Shara, an everyLIFE Technologies team member, recently attended. Personhood is defined as “a standing or a status that is bestowed on one human being, by another, in the context of relationship and social being”. It has been used in the care and treatment of dementia patients to highlight that good care practices treat and respect people with dementia as deserving of appropriate social interaction i.e. like the rest of us.
What caught my eye was that personhood considerations typically focus on the person with dementia but miss the personhood of their carers. The team who have carried on the research then point out if you have a philosophy of person-centred care in dementia, this crucial consideration for care staff needs to be recognised. Carers are often viewed as ‘instruments of care’ with their personhood at best overlooked but often ignored. Given that personhood is important to everyone why is it missing for care staff? ‘Respite’ is always part of a family carer’s support, how often is it considered for professional carers?
How do we change this? My view is that it is all about proper recognition of the skills, commitment and value. Responsibility starts from within, more emphasis on care staff placing greater value on the work they do, and the challenge then extended to all of us in the care sector to champion the value and the successes apparent in the care sector every day.
Supporting #ProfessionalCareWorkersDay is a first step.
It is obvious!
By Bruce Hiscock