The changing socio-economic reality in Poland, like in many other European countries, has weakened the ability of a family to take care of their loved ones. The nuclear family model combined with the rising unemployment, especially among young adults, often force people to emigrate in the pursuit of the better standard of living, higher salaries and the quality of life in general. The other side of the equation is the migration of health personnel like doctors and nurses from developing to developed countries which brings yet another dimension to an already complex public health concern. The average life expectancy is increasing but at the same time the decreasing birth rate is not able to fill in the gap between the generations. Adding to this is the prevailing social expectations in many countries that put a family member at the center of caregiving which is considered not just a moral choice but an obligation and responsibility that lie primarily in the hands of the family. Paradoxically, support comes only with the need of social intervention when these duties are being heavily neglected by the family and the decision is made to relocate the care recipient into the institution. In other cases and from the perspective of the community politics, family is a cheap, or even free, workforce helping to alleviate the burden of the chronically and terminally ill to the already weak healthcare system.
From the unpaid leave, to reduce tax council to finally a reliable financial support and insurance for those taking care of their loved ones, the government has a plethora of ways to respond to a global crisis of family caregiving and reduce the economic pressure faced by informal caregivers. Some countries like Belgium or France provide long leaves of one or more years for the care of terminally ill family members with others allowing only up to three month in English speaking countries and the Netherlands. This condition may be however a subject to discrimination in the workplace and may as well as be refused by employers on business grounds. Taking as an example Poland and Great Britain, the financial support, or perhaps lack of it, available to individuals involved in long term care of their loved ones is often regulated by simply illogical conditions. In order to receive nursing benefits a family caregiver must either resign from his current employment completely (Poland) or their salary cannot exceed roughly 100£ a week (Great Britain). In Poland received nursing benefit for those those who are eligible in the light of law is equal to a minimal national wage: 1300 PLN and roughly $355. Even without deeper understanding of the socio-economic situation in these countries and the ratio of living cost to wages, it is blatantly clear that both figures are far from being sufficient to sustain living of two individuals, one of whom requiring expensive medical assistance including medicines and equipment. More than being an outrageous fact, the above mentioned should be interpreted as an unacceptable violation of basic human rights. SDG 3 seeks to ensure universal access to affordable and effective medicines as well as increased health financing. What was discussed in the previous blog post diverges heavily from these objectives and poses a threat to human dignity and equal rights.