Informal Care Essay
Informal care is unpaid care that may be provided by family, friends or neighbours. (Brodsky, Habib and Hirschfield, 2003) state “Informal Care is by far the dominant form of care throughout the world. ” This essay will state how important informal care is in modern society and how this has affected current social policy. It will define what the differences are between informal and formal care, what exactly informal care consists of, what a carer is, include statistics about informal carers, explain what the mixed economy of care means and conclude the importance of informal care in society.
Informal care can be any type of unpaid care that a person receives. . Twigg (1992) states, “Informal care normally occurs in the context of the family or marital relationships, and is provided on an unpaid basis that draws on feelings of love, obligation and duty. Informal care does not imply that the care is provided on a casual or easy basis. ” Drawing on evidence from research into informal care, Johnson (in alcock 2008)Listed five categories of different types of care provided on an informal basis.
Personal care to include washing, dressing and feeding along with social support, which include financial support, visiting and companionship, even walking a person’s dog. When looking at informal care it is not just about caring for a person who has an illness it also means there is an expectation of the family unit to support the carer too, because the stresses and strains of caring for someone can have a massive impact on the family unit, particularly when the carer is expected to work informally often without pay or very little pay.
The informal care sector plays a vital role in the mixed economy of care within a mixed care. Informal care offers people a choice and competes with the voluntary, independent and public sector, delivering needs to the community. Whilst informal care maybe a preferred option for some families, carers who provide this role do so without regulations or terms and conditions of employment, Also no training and minimal recognition. There is a government scheme, named the direct payment.
The Community Care and Health Act 2002 brought this about; the Act stipulates that local authorities must make available direct payment to those who utilise community care services. Riddell, Ahlgren, Pearson, Watson, MacFarlane, no date). This is money which is paid directly to a person in need of care to employ someone of their own choice to support them in their daily living (Age Concern, no date). The negative factor of this payment is that it is not regulated.
It is difficult therefore to monitor and asses if the person is receiving the care they require (Somerset City Council, 2011). The majority of carers are women (finch and groves 1983) and significant proportions are under the age of 18. This is known as a young carer, which is defined as ‘someone, under the age of 18, who looks after, or helps to care for, a family member who has a disability, mental ill health, a blood borne virus or a problematic use of drugs or alcohol.
They may provide hands-on caring, and/or may be affected themselves by someone in their family who needs care’ (Dundee Carers Centre, 2009). There are difficulties identifying young carers because many do not disclose their caring role for fear of being separated from their parents and family members, bullying and social exclusion. Also there is a large amount of emotional strain for younger carers who do not access the services they are entitled to.
According to (Jimenez-Martin/Vilaplana 2008) informal care has its own hidden costs, though it may be free of charge to the public monies, Detrimental to health and psychological effects to carers are just two of the invisible costs that contribute to the pressures of informal care. Generally female carers have been shown to be more likely to give up their jobs, lose more money and to experience more stress than male carers. However it is wrong to assume that all informal care in the home is carried out by women, according to ghs figures, whilst 17 per cent of women provide such care . 3 per cent of men do Twigg(in alcock,2003:p186) Statistics show that there are 6. 7 million informal carers in Britain alone. Various benefits for the care of the disabled dependants have been legislated such as invalid care allowance which was passed in 1986 for married women carers. (Evandrou,m &Jane Falkingham 1998)The more care that can be shifted from the public taxpayer to the private individual, the easier the pressures on public spending total although the government tend to ignore private costs financial and health and social met by the families concerned.
There has also been a considerable increase in local authority services contracted out and supplied by non statutory profit making bodies, particularly post -1993,when local authorities shifted from the role of provider to that of purchaser (DOH1996) Mixed economy of care is the provision of care provided by a range of service providers instead of services being solely provided by the nhs and social services (the public sector) some services are commissioned from the independent and voluntary sectors.