Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' 1 2006, page 11-31.
English resume

'The World Champion Help System”?

A working-life perspective on user-controlled help in caregiving for disabled

Eva Munk-Madsen

In the beginning of the nineteen-seventies some young people with disabilities moved out of institutions and claimed public economic support for help in their private homes. What started as a local practice in one municipality grew to become a nationwide institutionalized welfare offer. The transformation of a collectively organized caregiving for disabled people, into an individualized system, also created individualized workings conditions. The formers clients became employers and the workers changed from public service workers to private servants. The caregiving work was de-professionalised and the workers got disconnected from the protection of collective agreements, from colleagues and from building collective professional working identity.

The working environment is precarious, due to the lack of institutionalised support when the intimate relationship between employer and helper turns difficult. The lack of guiding rules and professional norms, as a framework for employers’ demands, leaves every helper alone in dealing with excessive practical, social or emotional needs and wishes.

The naming of this help system as The World Champion, by the disabled and their organisations, relates to amount of help supplied and the supreme authority of the disabled concerning what and how help should be given. Issues of quality of care as well as working environment health and safety are left in the hands of each individual recipient of help. But it is the extended personal control of help that help-users equate with quality of care, rather than concern of developing quality standards for work and working environment.

Leaning on other studies of homecaregiving work, I here argue that the helpers have a privileged perspective in integrating quality of care and working environment concerns, but that they need a collective setting to develop this.

Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv

(Journal for Working Life)




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in Danish frontpage Nyt om arbejdsliv
editor Jørgen Burchardt