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HOMECARE WORKERS DESERVE BETTER: Homecare workers are poorly paid and undervalued.

The low pay and poor working conditions are permissible because the workforce is largely female and working class, according to Lydia Hayes, lecturer in law at Cardiff University, in Cardiff, Wales.

Hayes interviewed 30 U.K. homecare workers for her compelling new book
Stories of Care: a Labour of Law. Many dedicated individuals are drawn to homecare by a desire to make a difference. On the one hand, they find the work hugely satisfying. On the other, they face staggering workloads and feel undervalued.

As in Canada, worker turnover is high in the United Kingdom. More than a third of workers leave their jobs each year.

Stories of Care provides a blistering critique of employment law applied to homecare and other types of gendered employment. Hayes focuses on four main areas:

  • low wages, where workers believe they are paid less because they are mostly women
  • job insecurity
  • rewards of homecare work, and
  • low worker control.

According to Hayes, these women are victims of a process of institutionalized humiliation that undermines their confidence and has a damaging effect on their lives. Furthermore, the same system underpins the failings of homecare services for older people.

So what's the solution?

To begin, labour law must be reformed to meet the needs of the 21st century. As Hayes writes, "We need to protect social care, and to respect and value care work. That means we need to make changes to labour law."



IMPROVING SERVICE ACCESS FOR OLDER IMMIGRANTS: New research finds Chinese immigrants in the United Kingdom use "bridge" people to access health and other social services.

According to the study, many older immigrants lack information about health services. Some experience language or cultural barriers. And most have limited resources.

Who are bridge people?

Bilingual and bicultural, most bridge people are Chinese. They include family, friends, public sector workers and staff from community-based Chinese organizations. Services are provided free of charge. According to the study, older adults feel safe sharing their personal information with their supporters.

So what do bridge people do?

Primarily, they:

  • provide language assistance
  • help with translation
  • fill out application forms (one woman with mobility difficulties was unaware that she could apply for a walking frame, and receive it free of charge)
  • book medical appointments
  • research specific health issues
  • accompany participants to hospital
  • arrange transportation, and
  • provide emotional and cultural support.

Powerful strategy

When they get older, many people find comfort in their own culture and language. The findings show how Chinese and other ethnic groups can use a Bridge people network to support and enhance the lives of older immigrants.

Full details of the study appeared in the March 2017 issue of Health and Social Care in the Community.



AIRPORTS HELP TRAVELERS WITH DEMENTIA: Alzheimer's Disease International estimates close to 47 million people worldwide live with dementia today, and many still travel.

Airports are taking action.

In August 2016, London's Heathrow Airport launched a program to train its workforce, especially its security staff, to assist travellers with dementia and other disabilities. The goal is to reduce anxiety for travellers who may find security checks and crowded terminals confusing.

In December 2016, the Alzheimer Society's awarded London Gatwick airport its Dementia Friendly Innovation Award for its efforts to improve travel for people with disabilities. Gatwick offers passengers the option of wearing hidden disability lanyards. The lanyards ensure staff can identify passengers, who may need assistance.

In 2017, the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported the majority of the U.K.'s top 30 airports are providing "very good" or "good" support for persons with disabilities. At the same time, the CAA alerted four airports they would be monitored for improvement.

In June 2017, Brisbane Airport became Australia's first dementia-friendly airport with the launch of a special guide. Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide to Brisbane Airport for People Living with Dementia and their Travel Companions, grew out of a partnership between dementia advocates, the Brisbane Airport Corporation and the Queensland University of Technology.

The handy 34-page guide focuses on four key areas:

  • preparing for your journey
  • getting to the airport
  • checking in and flying out, and
  • flying into Brisbane.

Numbers show more and more people with disabilities are travelling today. In the United Kingdom alone, the number travelling by air has increased by 66 per cent since 2010.

Globally, the Alzheimer's Society and other charities are teaming up with airports to create a more comfortable airport experience for passengers with special needs.



BETTY FREIDAN ON OLD AGE: At 60, the author of The Feminine Mystique began research for her book on old age. Over the next 12 years, she interviewed scores of older adults and distilled findings from gerontologists, psychologists and social scientists.

In The Fountain of Age, published in 1993, she writes:

We have barely even considered the possibilities of age for new kinds of loving intimacy, purposeful work and activity, learning and knowing, community and care . . . for to see age as continued human development involves a revolutionary paradigm shift.