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Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care

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Bunting captures the commitment of many care workers who, while knowing themselves demeaned as ‘just’ carers, suggest to her: ‘I am not bothered. See our Remarkables Archive list for what is no longer in print, but which we are happy to track down. I particularly enjoyed the section at the end of each chapter, where Bunting explores our changing understanding of the word “care” by offering definitions of associated words and examining their historical context.

One social worker Bunting speaks with describes the trauma endured when cutting support desperate families rely on, leading him to have a breakdown and retrain in another field. Blending these testimonies with a history and language of care, and with her own experiences of caring for the young and old in her family, 'Labours of Love' paints a portrait of our nation today - and of how it might be. We first experience bodily care as infants, Bunting notes, and many of the questions that run through her book originated in her early days of motherhood. Yet in a modern, industrialised society like ours, with an increasing population, it must often be paid for and given to us by those we do not know.Within the current climate the book provides an answer to those questioning how we reached this point and what political and cultural shifts are required to repair our starved care systems. Bunting condemns the political dimensions of needlessly imposed austerity policies, with their disastrous outcomes for care. It is an unusual combination of memoir, investigative journalism, philosophy and a little literary criticism but a deeply wise and satisfying synthesis. Bunting’s book reveals a grim pattern: inadequate funding means inadequate staffing means inadequate care, sparking scandals such as the neglect that killed hundreds at a Mid Staffordshire hospital in the 2000s – which in turn ushers in well-meaning but burdensome bureaucracy.

Feminism won a new role for women in the world of work, but the workplace is organised around the imperatives of productivity and efficiency, while parenting requires patience and the acceptance of distractions and interruptions. why would politicians seeking the approval of voters nevertheless fail to support and recognise the one thing that all voters admire? The Initiative supported the All Party Parliamentary Group in their 10 month inquiry which led to a report Mindful Nation UK, published in October 2015. The business of nursing is increasingly credentialed and technical with less time for the human aspects of care, which are devolved to auxiliary workers. Yet little is known about how people in India cope with dementia, how relationships and identities change through illness and loss.What it said about care provision and the way it's managed (and neglected) is really important and should be taken very seriously. Meanwhile, with community resources and respite leave disappearing, home carers also find it ever harder to manage, whoever they are nurturing. Short sections between chapters on the history of individual keywords – care, empathy, kindness, compassion, pity, dependence, suffering – offer food for thought. We need to start building value, and this begins by the language we use to describe health and social care jobs.

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