The Healthcare Industry: Profit on a Margin(alized People)
The healthcare system in the United States is capitalist by nature and, as a result, negatively impacts those seeking care and those providing it. In particular, those involved with hospice care, nursing homes, and general long-term care are most impacted. Although most may only think of the patients and their families being negatively, the way the healthcare system works specifically ensures that patients and caregivers face hardship. Due to the for-profit model most long-term care facilities use, care assistants are forced to work long hours in understaffed environments for low pay, which not only creates economic hardship for them, but causes their patients to endure miserable conditions in which their needs are often unmet due to the assistants’ inability to provide adequate care, which is usually due to lack of time. This cycle of deficiency in providing resources to not only patients but also caregivers is outlined in Timothy Diamond’s book Making Gray Gold: Narratives of Nursing Home Care. In Making Gray Gold, Diamond gives a firsthand report of his experiences in the nursing care field as he spent ten years in training and in the field.
One of the most interesting and perhaps most prominent concepts brought up by and discussed by Diamond in his book was the role of intersectionality, specifically race and class regarding nursing home assistants. Early on, Diamond noted that the majority of his fellow care assistant trainees were immigrants and people of color. Diamond observes that “[f]rom the administrative point of view it is logical that the homes located in poorer sections… would be more likely to rely on immigrant workers, who provide cheaper labor costs f...
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... she hinted at the nursing assistants being abusive, and she occasionally had bruises on her arms. She rarely went outside and ate very little, which reflected on her health very poorly. I definitely believe her health deteriorated much faster while living in the facility than it would have had she lived with family. The other elderly in her home did not talk to each other and it was very depressing to be inside. Prior to reading Making Gray Gold, I blamed the entirety of poor care on the nursing assistants because I assumed that since it was their job to take good care of the patients, they were simply just not doing a good job and it was their fault. However, after reading this book, I definitely see that it is more complicated than that. I cannot excuse elder abuse, but I can see why all the other problems happened with the nursing home my great-grandmother was in.
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