Every now and again I am reminded that the business of “social care” really is women’s work. It shouldn’t be, as women do not have a monopoly on “caring” but the lack of investment in the sector, low pay, and unreliable working hours means that women tend to be the front line of social care.
What doesn’t always make sense to me is that whilst most of the work (paid and voluntary) is done by women, senior positions and decision making roles are mostly held by men. Been to an NDS conference lately? What about the Board room of some of our biggest and most influential charities? Decision makers are blokes. Now walk through the corridors of a residential care facility or spend a day with a community care worker while she drives from home to home to support an older person or person with disability get on with their day. Guarantee you will mostly see women in the front line.
Whilst the senior managers are unwilling to take pay cuts in a consumer directed model, the expectation to deliver higher outputs for lower cost is being shifted to the front line.
There is no doubt that we need to focus attention on this reforming sector and the people who do most of the work. How will we support women in their work and the move across to consumer directed and person centred models of care? How will we ensure that these women at the front line are not taken advantage of and have their rights as workers eroded? How will customers be confident they are getting care and support from a skilled and well supported worker?
The answer to these questions must lie in our capacity to work together and understand the challenges. We must also learn to listen to women at the front line and include them in decision making.
Consider these and other questions and celebrate the role of women in social care.
Happy (belated) International Women’s Day http://www.internationalwomensday.com/