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Gift of Care Web

Gift of Care Web

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Published by: Interfaith CarePartners on Sep 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/06/2011

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701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
1
A Gift of Care:Why Caring Is Always A Gift
People who provide supportive services to others for pay are referred to as
formal 
caregivers and those who provide support without a fee, such as familymembers, neighbors, or Caregiving Team members are referred to as
informal 
caregivers. The nature and content of a relationship between a formal caregiver and acare partner likely will be different than a relationship between a care partner and aninformal care partner. The pre-existing relationship between family members or friendsappears to affect positively the experienced quality of the informal caregiving inimportant ways, even though the specific tasks of care may be generally the same andperformed with a comparable level of competence. In short, it may just feel different,better or more comfortable to a care partner when support is received from a familymember, long time friend, fellow congregant, or volunteer than from a person employedpersonally or through an agency. Why is this?Formal caregiving in reality is the performance of certain tasks, such ascompanionship, transportation, shopping assistance, personal care, housework, andmeal preparation, by a person primarily as an occupation. They perform tasks becausethey are being paid. If they were not being paid a fee, they would not be in contact withthe person needing care and support. The motivation to be present and to performtasks is primarily occupational. They are doing a job for which someone or someorganization is willing to pay. Their time together may have little or no mutuality. Thefollowing are some characteristics of formal caregiving.
The employed ‘c
aregiv
er’
is active and the care partner is passive, one performs,the other accepts or receives.
The employed ‘caregiver’ may be perceived as an “extra pair of hands
,
someonewho is there to perform tasks that a care partner cannot. The two relate asemployer and employee, rather than as peers.There may be differences of language, culture, race or ethnicity, and frequentchanges of paid caregivers that frustrate the formation of an interdependentrelationship.The
employed ‘caregiver’ is present because it is his or her occupation.
 
 
 
701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
2
A measure of performance tends to be how competently assigned tasks areperformed.In contrast to formal caregiving, informal caregiving is potentially more personal andintimate due to the prior histories of the parties. Moreover, the motivation to be presentand to provide assistance has some other basis than income or occupation. Thefollowing are some characteristics of informal caregiving.It may be more likely that conduct of the relationship will be interactive whereboth parties give and receive in their own way.An informal caregiver may more easily become a confidante and be trusted morereadily because of their past relationship, shared characteristics (socioeconomic,demographic, religious), or interests.
 
Caregiving Team members who may be strangers to a care partner may be morelikely to share characteristics and interests as points of contact that may developinto strong bonds that tie the two together.Caregiving Team members are present and serve without a fee. They are
motivated by their response to God’s call to care in the name of the
congregation.The relationship between care partner and informal caregiver appears to be moredynamic because they are on a level playing field. What happens between themis shaped by more than getting a task done. Each person makes and receivesgifts from the other. Their relationship takes on new dimensions as they adjust tothe new challenges and opportunities. The possibility for innovation and thefreedom to create something new may be greater.Formal and informal are terms that denote whether services are performed for a fee orfree. For some formal caregivers, tasks are the content of the relationship, but even inthese situations, care (as opposed to providing a service) is still a gift.Here are questions for discussion.Is it appropriate to refer to an employed person as a care
giver
?Can care be purchased or must care always be a gift of someone to another?
 
 
701 N. Post Oak Rd., Ste. 330, Houston, TX 77024 | 713-682-5995info@interfaithcarepartners.org|www.interfaithcarepartners.org 
3
How is care different from performing tasks?Caring ideally is a mutual activity. Think about spouses and how the quality of a
marriage is affected when one person’s love and care for the other dies. They may
remain married, but one spouse cannot force the other to love him or her, nor can lostlove be purchased. Love for another is a gift that can only be given. Is care like love?Is an emotional investment in the welfare and well being of another person a gift thatmay only be given?Ideally a care partner and Team member will grow to care for each other, not justspend time together or perform a task and accept a service. Each will in andthrough their relationships intangible and invaluable gifts that enrich both lives.In caring relationships, both are active parties who both bless and are blessed.Each values the other and through their journey together become mutuallyvulnerable to a point where what happens to one, better or worse, matters to theother. Joys and burdens are shared.The manner of informal caregiving is person to person. The dignity, value, and self-esteem of both people are of utmost importance and all that occurs seeks to preserveand enrich these features of personhood. A paid caregiver may see a care recipient asan object upon which to perform tasks, rather than a person with a rich history andneeds that are not only physical. A paid caregiver may not know or value the life historyof the other or strive to respect and preserve the continuity of that history and personalvalues into and through the present challenge. A formal caregiver may effectivelyperform tasks, but is not required to become vulnerable or to emotionally invest in thelife and future of a person served.Thus, care can only be given. The experience of being vulnerable and in need maybecome more easy to accept and bear when both extend and accept gifts from eachother, when both experience mutuality in their time and activity together, when bothseek to enrich the lives of the other.
Team members represent the gift of God’s love and care for broken, vulnerable,and weak people. You are gifts from God and the congregation who fulfill God’s
promise to always be with us.

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