A research team of the University of Valencia (UV) has carried out the study 'Care, a space of equality', which has just been presented at the Faculty of Social Sciences. This is the first Valencian study that analyzes who and how men are responsible for the care of dependent adults and among its conclusions, aims to raise awareness among families and promote from public services that "a distribution must be made of tasks, not only among women, but also to involve men in equal conditions ".
"There is a lot of talk about the care that men take in terms of paternity, of taking care of children, but what happens in the more complex situations that arise when it comes to caring for adults in situations of dependency?" , asks Juan Antonio Rodríguez del Pino, professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology.
This is the starting point of the study, carried out in collaboration with the City Council of Valencia, whose objective is twofold: on the one hand, to take a photograph of the current situation of this reality and, on the other, to find out how the participation of the men in these tasks. "In an increasingly aging population, it is necessary to increase the participation of men in the care of dependent people," says Rodríguez, principal investigator of the project.
One of the main conclusions of the study is that male caregivers resort to the help provided by public services for people in situations of dependency. "This tells us that many women continue to take responsibility for caring for dependents, which they have traditionally had to deal with." Men, on the other hand, seek the help of external resources beforehand, "Rodríguez points out. .
The most common profiles of male caregivers are that of an older man who cares for his dependent wife, or that of the children and, in some cases, the sons-in-law, who take care of the elderly in the family. "When it comes to intergenerational care, caring for parents or mothers, we have seen that more and more men and women are responsible," says the study coordinator.
This research also sought to observe how men who perform care tasks in their family environment perceive their own role, and what are the positive consequences that caregivers can have for caregivers. "What we have seen is that for male carers it is important to be able to express the pride that is involved in these care tasks," says Rodríguez.
"Many of them have explained to us, through interviews, that having to take charge, for example, of a mother or a father is a duty, a moral and ethical obligation, a way of returning what they did before that they perceive from In a positive way, from what we have seen, this pride factor makes man grow as a caregiver, and, in addition, socially is quite well seen. "
The willingness that can be had in the beginning to take care of the needs of a dependent person can be complicated over time. "These are situations that can be aggravated, and caring for these people is in some way paralyzing the life project of the caregiver, with no expected end date, because the situation of dependency can go on for many years," says Rodríguez.
"We have to be clear that most probably all of us, men and women, will have to take care of someone from our environment, because for many public resources that there will never be enough to cover the demand for these services, and it is urgent that we" degenerate "the tasks of care, that we stop associating them with women ", warns the researcher.
The solution to achieve a more equal participation in the care of adults is through greater awareness of families. "When a family has a person in a situation of dependency, it is necessary to divide the tasks not only among women in the family environment, but also to involve men in equal conditions, and this must be strengthened also from the services public and from education ".
This is the first Valencian study that analyzes who and how men are responsible for the care of dependent adults. It has been carried out in collaboration with the City Council of Valencia, which has also financed it and has facilitated access to male caregivers through municipal social services. The data has been obtained from surveys and interviews with both social service professionals and non-professional caregivers.
The research has been directed from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, "but in the group has also involved people from Social Work, Pedagogy, Social Education and the Institute for Women's Studies to provide a global and gender perspective" , according to Rodríguez del Pino.
It is planned that the study can be downloaded soon for free from the website of the City of Valencia.