[Editor’s Note: Dr. Thomas has invited Eden Alternative’s Europe Coordinator Christa Monkhouse to guest-post on a weekly basis from across the Big Pond. Christa is personally responsible for introducing the Eden Alternative to Europe, first in the UK, then Denmark, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and soon in Sweden, Finland and other European nations. Stay-tuned for regular updates on ‘Monkhouse Mondays’.]
We all know what an ambassador is and the prestige attached to this function. We also know that providing care as a care-assistant or “paraprofessional“ is less glamorous, invisible, prestige-wise close to stacking shelves in a supermarket or cleaning. Work where mostly women “end up“, without career prospects or career planning.
If we take a closer look, it is these carers that often make up the social environment for old and frail persons in care plus their close friends and relatives.
The notion of the Shabaz in the Green-House, the Daily Living Assistant in Canada’s Sherbrooke Community Center and Life-Assistants in Switzerland, where a few care managers see them as complementary to nurses, doctors, therapists and not subordinated in the hierarchical structure of long term care facilities. Switzerland, a country of 7 Million people, will need an additional 30,000 Life Assistants in the next two decades. And so we had better change the image of this work NOW! (see also Monkhouse Monday post from April 28th, 2008).
In the United Kingdom, the Care Ambassadors train social carers to go out to schools and communities to let young people, who are looking for a career, know that there are worthwhile and rewarding careers awaiting them in the long term care sector.
My vision is to bring this idea to the European continent, It fits perfectly with the paradigm of the Eden Alternative philosophy. And who knows, we may one day have honors and medals available for the special people who excel as carers.
— Christa Monkhouse