In terms of this article, the term ‘Carer’ is defined as members of families who have been define as carers by themselves or others because they are regarded to provide assistance to other family members who have impairments in a manner that is considered as above and beyond what society expects of them which society should reward.
As I have written before, the term is a relevantly new social construction that has worrying consequences for how society regards family relationships in terms of people with impairments that has actively denormalised people with impairments’ inclusion into family life by reinforcing notions of otherness and exclusion.
Religions across the world designed marriage centuries ago to solve a number of social issues including how people support each other. ‘In sickness and in health’ in the marriage vows is not just empty words but a mechanism and commitment to look after your family in terms of health and impairment.
These responsibilities remained a family affair unchallenged until the creation of the NHS in 1948, when the UK government started to take greater responsibility of people’s health. Until the early 1990s, social care was very limited and only often involved residential care. The Community Care Act required local authorities to provide home care and laid the foundations for modern social care.
During the next 20 years, the term carer was created to recognise the needs of families, especially those not receiving formal support. It started as a good idea that grew with the rise of carer focused charities and saw the recognition of carer’s rights in the 2014 Care Act. It has now in the era of identity politics become a strong political identity which is fighting for attention and resources directly against disabled people’s inclusion.
A carer is perceived to look after someone who is mostly dependent on them. The existence of a carer with a voice requires someone who is dependent on them which society treats as voiceless, denying them the personhood many people with impairments have fought for. Carers are often pitied for having to care for people regarded as not full citizens. This is a power struggle where a powerful carers movement, based within the whole welfare framing of people with impairments, is winning against the inclusion of people with impairments.
I would never suggest family members are not providing support but some of this is the support all families provide each other. Being too heavily focus on the carer identity and the rights it brings can stop many people fulfilling their family roles. People need their husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters more than a carer who is perceived wronged by maintaining a relationship.
As opposed to family members, the wronged carer is perceived to know best and often unlawfully encouraged to make decisions on behalf of those dependent people. I fear that the public pity for carers without hesitation will make the ‘mercy killings’ of ‘loved ones’ by ‘carers’ more acceptable, especially as it fits in nicely with the left wing portrayal of people with impairments as naturally defective.
We need to support people with impairments to reclaim their families from a powerful charity led carers movement to halt a slow acceptance of eugenic policies.
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