Work and informal care

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1 Work and informal care Myra Lewinter External Lecturer Dias 1

2 Aims of this talk To illustrate the importance of employment for the Nordic welfare model To illustrate the extent of employment among informal carers To discuss the two major needs of employed carers: formal care and labor market issues To illustrate differences between Nordic countries in regard to these, and To suggest some projects to illustrate the complexity of employment and informal care at the Nordic level Dias 2

3 Enhedens navn Why are working informal carers important? More and more people are working or are expected to work and to work for longer periods of time before retirement This is true for both women and men More people are living longer, which all things being equal, means more need for care. Governments are retreating from public provision of services such as care, leaving informal carers to shoulder the burden while they are working. Similar arguments can be made for other informal carers for dependent people. Sted og dato Dias 3

4 Limits of data for this paper My own research has been on informal carers for frail elderly people in Denmark. My knowledge of the situation of informal carers for persons with disabilities in Denmark is limited but the main frameworks discussed here would seem to apply to these carers as well at least in principle. Dias 4

5 Employment and the Nordic welfare model The traditional Nordic welfare model is built upon full employment. This means that both women and men are expected to be active on the labor market, both with regard to being employed and employed as close to full time as possible. The development of Nordic wealth and provision of services on a universal basis is premised on this labor market participation. This means that so called traditional non labor marked related services such as care for dependent people (which formerly fell to female homemakers) can no longer be considered legitimate full time occupation. This also means that people we are calling informal carers at this seminar are expected to be on the labor market, unless they are old age pensioners themselves or too ill to work. Are they? Dias 5

6 Working carers in two Danish studies: study 1 Qualitative interviews with 45 informal carers of all ages: Division of occupations : 6 old age pensioner 5 early retirees 2 long term illness 4 unemployed 28 working (mostly full time) This means that 62% were employed and 12.5% were retired Dias 6

7 Working carers in two Danish studies: study 2 Survey of people between years of age Qualitative interview with a subsample of informal carers 74% of the female and 81.6% of the male carers who responded to the survey were employed At least 11% of the female and 28% of the male carers said they worked longer than official full time. Both long and short (under 30 hours a week) part time work was more prevalent among women. Interviews with 27 carers: 70.3% were employed, 22% on early retirement (including illness) Dias 7

8 Comments The rate of employment among informal carers is about the same as in the population in general There is a gender difference in the amount of time used at work It seems that these figures can be extrapolated to the Nordic countries in general Therefore: Informal carers are employed! (except retired spouses for instance) Dias 8

9 Informal carers needs In my studies there were two main needs that the informal carers expressed: more and better formal care more flexibility at work The first is the main priority, so let s take a look at what is happening Dias 9

10 Percentage of people 80 years + who receive home help in Denmark (source: statistikbanken.dk) Year Percent of 80+ receiving home help Dias 10

11 Comments There has been a similar decrease in the percentage of home help recipients in other age groups. There hasn t been an increase in the number of nursing home places or other sheltered dwellings to compensate for decrease in percentage of people 80+ years receiving home help Last week the Danish High Court decided that municipalities are allowed to take home care away from recipients because the municipality has economic problems, as long as the municipality makes an individual evaluation of the people. Denmark is no longer the generous Nordic country in terms of offering home care. Dias 11

12 Some consequences of this reduction Insecurity and frustration among the informal carers Extra efforts for them to secure help for their cared for person More importantly a growing inequality among older people and informal carers: if you have the money you can purchase practical help, but if not There are indications (from SHARE study) that well off pensioners are purchasing help A study by the Danish statistical office revealed that older people with well off children are likely to receive more home help than others. There are indications that this inequality is also prevalent in other Nordic countries Dias 12

13 To do: some suggestions at Nordic level What is the status of formal care provision in the Nordic countries how has this been developing Development of cogent arguments about the importance of high levels of formal help in order to support informal carers on the labor market The growing role of inequality in care: how is this appearing in the Nordic countries and how is this affecting carers in general and carers who are working? Dias 13

14 Labor Market Issues: policy formation Labor market policies are developed differently in the Nordic countries. There are different roles for decentralization of policy making, role of national legislatures, role of labor unions and employers associations. Danish example is illustrative Strong role of unions/employers in determining policy while minor role for parliament. Little labor market legislation (e.g. no minimum wage, etc.) Bottom up formulation of demands for negotiations (our attempt to put carers on the agenda) Dias 14

15 Labor Market Issues: policy formation 2 It would be important to become more aware of the differences between the Nordic labor markets and the process of policy formation in the respective countries. By exploring these differences it should be clear that arguing for awareness of informal carers needs has to be carried out differently in each country. Therefore it might be an idea to carry out an investigation to specify these differences and to pinpoint manners in which carers issues can be raised. Dias 15

16 Labor Market Issues: jobs and functions Peoples functions on the labor market have a lot to do with the possibilities and barriers they have when they are informal carers Two examples from my own work This means that one policy does not fit all working informal carers. Therefore it would be appropriate to develop catalogues of jobs/functions and their possibilities as support for regards informal carers. Dias 16

17 Summary and suggestions for further work Needs of working informal carers include sufficient and reliable formal care being available, accessible and affordable. Therefore it is necessary to develop arguments about the role formal care plays in supporting working carers for the Nordic governments. The process of formation of labor market policies differs in the Nordic countries, so it is not possible to have one strategy to bring the issue of informal carers to the fore. Therefore it is important to develop these strategies country by country. Jobs and functions differ as to the possibilities and barriers for informal carers so one policy does not fit all. It would be important to develop analyses of various jobs and/or functions to find the most useful strategies to support informal carers. Finally we must examine inequality, inequalities with respect to obtaining help. Dias 17

18 Last but absolutely not least Care recipients voices need to be heard more and louder. Do care recipients have a real choice as to how they want to receive care and the care mix they prefer? Abuse of frail people is a crucial dimension of all care situations. With combined packages of care there are different sets of eyes on a situation. This can function to hinder abuse or at least bring it to attention. Are decreases in formal care decreasing that possibility? Dias 18

19 Thank you for your attention Dias 19

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