ISSUE 63 APRIL 2004 BACK

in a nutshell with henry maier

A practical dilemma which can be resolved

In my practice column this month I want to clarify a concern that I first raised in my opening address at the 2003 International Child and Youth Care Conference hosted by the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria, Victoria BC.

At the time of the conference, I voiced a serious concern. I felt that when negotiating contracts for care work, many of those in charge of hiring do not put enough emphasis on the real needs of the clientele. Also, let me remind you that many caregivers agree to working hours and other working conditions that favor their own private lives, and are not necessarily in tune with child and youth immediate treatment/living requirements. However, to be fare we must keep in mind that these work place agreements are consummated because those in charge could not or would not adapt to reasonable salary demands or personal needs of the prospective caregivers. It is not necessarily a matter of the agency staff making unreasonable demands of being careless about work negotiations. I hold that the major issue is out of the hands of the caregiver and is the responsibility of administrators and consultants.

The fundamental basis for negotiation must be to realistically see to it that care recipients receive the same quality of care as their peers receive in their daily lives within the family. Just as each family has to meet the needs of individuals amid family demands, so treatment and living goals are foremost in out of home care. This requires mutual adjustment; the essential task should not rest on adaptation to the weakest spot. Plans should focus on searching for an equitable balance which provides fair adjustment for the client, the group and the caregiver.

Additionally, such an adaptation can be applied in the obvious potential power struggle amidst different practitioners. In planning their direct care work, they will need to pursue their respective orientation with full respect not to subvert the purpose of the agency mission.

Good cheers, Henry

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