Can a ‘caring’ relationship support independence?

By Lorraine Gradwell: For More Info, Go Here…

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about caring in the sense of friends, family, pets or lovers! Most, if not all of us, have people we care for; people we love, and of course we all look out for each other. That’s what a caring relationship is. But the words ‘caring’ has many meanings and connotations. It’s tempting to reach for the dictionary at this point, but instead I’m going to quote Humpty Dumpty: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is”‘ said Alice,”‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

And so, how many different things does ‘care’ mean? As outlined above, it can mean a loving and mutually supportive relationship. Also, parents care for their children, but other children are taken into care. Ex-offenders traditionally received care and rehabilitation, we have care homes for elderly people, and nowadays many disabled people have paid carers, or informal/family carers.

So ingrained is this particular concept that the spellchecker on my computer insistently offers me ‘Carer’, as if the word only exists as a proper noun. And in many instances, as the list above shows, the way the word is used implies that at the very least, there is oversight of the person being cared for.

Quite opposite to this is the concept of ‘independence,’ which in the world of disability, is not about being isolated, rather it is about autonomy and being in charge of our own lives.

Dr. Adolf Ratzka says quite brilliantly of independence:

Independent living does not mean that we want to do everything by ourselves, do not need anybody or like to live in isolation. Independent living means that we demand the same choices and control in our every-day lives that our non-disabled brothers and sisters, neighbours and friends take for granted.

We want to grow up in our families, go to the neighbourhood school, use the same bus as our neighbours, work in jobs that are in line with our education and interests, and raise families of our own. We are profoundly ordinary people sharing the same need to feel included, recognised and loved.

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