A blog entry by the latest Research Associate to join the Sustainable Care team, Dr Annie Austin.
Human beings are caring beings. Without care, human infants would not survive, and everyone has care needs at some point in their lives, through illness, injury, disability, or frailty. We are dependent on one another for life, and so for a good life. Interdependence, rather than independence, is a defining feature of being human. As Aristotle said in the Nicomachean Ethics, caring relationships are not only a necessary thing, but a splendid one.
My work on the Sustainable Care programme builds on my previous experience of conducting research with people living with dementia and family carers. My postdoctoral research programme, Living Well with Dementia Together, was grounded in a social model of dementia, and used a Capabilities Approach to explore the social factors that enable people to live well with dementia together. For example, the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities initiative envisages cities, towns and villages in which everyone, from the bus driver, the hair dresser, and the person in the street, is tuned in to the challenges faced by those living with dementia, and is ready to help. Such a social setting would value, respect and enable people with dementia to live good lives. On discussing this idea with a group of local authority policy commissioners, one commented that “We need our communities to be dementia-friendly, but also Parkinson’s-friendly, carer-friendly…Just friendly!” I thought this was a lovely nutshell summary of the importance of building an infrastructure of sociality and care that would enable all of us to live well together.
It is a privilege to be part of the Sustainable Care programme, which brings together so many different disciplines, methods and analytical viewpoints. As a big fan of the branch of Ethics known as the Ethics of Care, I am proud to be part of a programme that sees care as a question of values, ethics, rights and well-being. I hope my background in philosophy and empirical ethics will stand me in good stead to make a useful contribution to the programme, and to the work package ‘Combining Work and Care.’
Dr Annie Austin
Annie is a Research Associate on the Sustainable Care programme, click the link below to learn more about her work.