Are you interested in Workers Rights? How about Human Rights? Good! Read on.
There is a cohort of workers who are forced to work without pay, often around the clock, often with no assistance. These workers aren’t even building up a pension for retirement…if they even live to see retirement years, that is.
These workers do have an option to leave this job, but it would literally require they give up one of their children or their spouse to be free to live a life apart from this unpaid, constant work. Can you imagine that being the only choice?
These workers must perform their duties full time if they are to get any financial assistance from the government, and even if they do that work, they may not receive that (very meager) assistance if they have a working spouse or a decent savings to fall back upon.
These workers go days, weeks, sometimes even months without seeing their peers, without having interaction apart from the job they do often 24/7. Their own physical and emotional health slowly eroding as the years of work continue.
Are you still with me?
These workers are family carers.
In Ireland, we save the state approximately €10b annually by providing this care v. if we decided not to provide it and instead put our loved one in residential care (that is, IF it is even available). For many of us, for many reasons, the latter isn’t an option.
This is Carer’s Week. Or as many of us carers call it, Real Carer’s Week.
When you advocate for a better society, please remember those workers who are hidden away behind their doors, often silent, always exhausted, and usually ignored by government.
We don’t need platitudes, and we definitely don’t need platitudes for one week a year.
What we need are reforms.
More services to support our work, both in home and out of the home. Respite services. Day services. A fair living wage that gives us the ability to have credit, the ability to apply for home and vehicle loans, all while we have a pension accruing. We need more disability suitable housing, both social and private. Timely access to required equipment and care.
We need mental health services made available to all family carers, including home based services as many carers are unable to avail of these services outside of the home because of their full time caring work. We need wraparound palliative care for the entire family.
This is just for starters. We need many things, for what we give 24/7 is so much more.
We aren’t unbreakable. We aren’t superheroes. We are human beings who are being exploited because we LOVE and CARE. It’s time for it to change.