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Taking Care of Our OwnWhen Family Caregivers Do Medical Work$
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Sherry N. Mong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501751448

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501751448.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Taking Care of Our Own

Sherry N. Mong

Cornell University Press

This chapter gives a brief introduction of the significance of the work of caregivers and what it's like to work as a caregiver. It talks about the debate over home health care. The “home care is best” view casts the home as a place of rest and healing, and emphasizes the patient's comfort and the caregiver's love and concern. This view, however, downplays the costs associated with caregiving. There are issues with balancing work and family care, and many caregivers experienced sleeplessness and anxiety. Though most caregivers developed a “you do what you have to do” attitude and were able to figure out a way to perform the tasks, it was not a simple process. The chapter also discusses how caregivers are primarily forced laborers. “Home care for all” downplays caregiver labor and does not consider unmet caregiver needs or the particular nuisances of the home health situation. It discusses how workplace scholars have generally confined their analyses of medical labor to paid wage labor. By recognizing only those who are compensated, scholars allow capitalism to define work processes and to determine who it is that we consider as workers. This began a dichotomous division of labor whereby unpaid work in the “private sphere” was seen as personal and emotional, and paid work in the “public sphere” was seen as rational and productive. The separate-spheres construct not only fails to recognize the enormous contributions made in the private sphere, but also ideologically places “love” in the home and “labor” in paid jobs.

Keywords:   caregivers, home health care, forced laborers, caregiver labor, medical labor, caregiver needs

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