When is it Wrong to Share.
On one level, it’s never wrong. If people need care and support then why would we ever argue that they shouldn’t be given it? Also, there’s something about sharing and general generosity that is just good for everyone. I would guess that most of us grew up being encouraged to share things with siblings, other family members, visitors or friends. It might have included giving up some sweets or sharing some material possession but whatever it was, and if you are like me, it might also have presented a dilemma: “What? Share my Sweets!” That was never easy and on top of that we also grew up with other notions around saving, preserving, defending and asserting ourselves. We were told to look after things or save some for later. How can we give stuff away and preserve our own comfort or keep ourselves ready for the future? It’s a tough place to be in when someone gives you a lovely box of chocolates and then suggests the first thing to do is to share. When it comes to chocolate, I also understand that that is not just a childhood dilemma!
There are some things too, that we know not to share but all I can think of right now are things that we couldn’t achieve alone but pass off as our own. You might remember the fuss caused when the pop-psychiatrist Raj Persaud admitted to plagiarism? That’s not sharing, it’s taking and it marks the kind of conditions that might cause any of us to close in and stop sharing. I certainly wouldn’t call up someone like Raj Persaud and say, “Can we talk? I’ve got a few great ideas to run by you.”
The on line community thrives on sharing. I think I’ve made that point a few times recently in trying to encourage people visiting The Neighbourgood to share something themselves. We all know the warnings to be careful about what we share on line in order to protect our privacy. Many of us are cautious about sharing what we are doing, or our personal information and images and we certainly shouldn’t share too much information about where we are and what we are doing. For instance, we should be careful about sharing on line when the house will be empty. If you are taking a holiday, you might prefer to share the details when you get home. We have also heard stories about people that find things out about others on line: “Too much information!” is the phrase that might indicate that it was wrong to share.
Wrong to Share the Answers
Plagiarism doesn’t mean sharing knowledge is wrong. Plagiarism is a denial of the origin of ideas and claiming ownership of another person’s work; a failure to attribute work to its author. We also accept that it’s wrong to share knowledge in a test or exam. It happens and if it does, both the test-taker and answer-giver are at fault. We call that cheating rather than sharing and the problem is that someone cheating in a test fails to demonstrate the level of their own knowledge or skill. For all their failings, tests and exams show a level of competence, aptitude or knowledge. If you don’t complete the exam independently, then it can never be a true representation of your own abilities. It will also be unfair to those who do the test on the strength of their own effort. But helping others find answers and sharing knowledge is all good if there is an open acknowledgement of need and a willingness to share and learn.
Can it be Wrong to Share Care?
Caring relationships are about giving and receiving. They are often life-affirming interactions in society communities and families where the needs of some are absorbed by the wider resources of others or one other person; where disadvantaged people benefit from the strengths, skill, knowledge and capacity of others. Caring can be freely given or it can be paid for; formal or informal. It can be tough, challenging and emotionally charged for both the carer and care-giver but it also needs to be measured, appropriate, thoughtful and respectful. So where is this leading? Caring should never take away from the person being cared for. If care doesn’t add something to the person being cared for, it might be the wrong kind of care.
Wrong to Share too Much Care
Caring is best when it provides just the right amount of support to enable the person requiring care to lead as independent a life as possible. This means that person will be able to participate as much as possible in their own care and that their quality of life improves. Now, that is easy to say but if you are a person giving care or in receipt of care, I know it can be very complicated. What care must never do is erode a person’s independence in a way that compounds any need or disability. It is possible that too much care can undermine skills a person might already have and needs to retain.
Let’s say that support is arranged for a person who finds it difficult to go outside. They may have a range of skills, knowledge and experience but feel so challenged by the thought of leaving their home they have stopped doing things like visiting friends or going shopping. Initially, friends might decide to visit the person or a support worker could be arranged to do some essential shopping. Some things can be achieved by using the telephone or internet but so far, none of this is helping the person overcome whatever it is preventing them from venturing out. Over time, these kinds of difficulties can become serious and the longer it goes on, the more problematic it will become.
Good care in these situations will go beyond just doing the essentials. Good care will balance the need to help the person stay safe as well as promote independence. It will look forward to helping the person regain control and resume their usual daily activities. This is not easy. It may require support from others and a huge effort from the person that can’t go out. It involves talking, planning and organising as well as doing. It will need to find ways to gain the person’s confidence and give them hope and encouragement. It will include participation and possibly, some professional help such as a “talking therapy.” What I am saying here is that in this context it could be wrong to provide so much support that the person might never need to go out again! They might lose skills and confidence and the thought of leaving the home could become even more of a challenge. In these circumstances support and care isn’t just about, “Doing for,” it is also about, “Doing with.”
Good Care is Measured Care
Of course, if someone has an urgent, high level of need the right response might be to just throw everything we have into the mix. Some people require help all of the time but even then, good care will help preserve a persons dignity by making every effort to do what is in their best interests and thinking hard about what the person wants, needs, feels and believes to be the right thing.
When is it Wrong Not to Share?
When you are visiting The Neighbourgood of course! Look, I’m not a carer and although I have a bit of professional experience of these things I’m conscious that I might be missing things and I don’t want to speak out of turn. So, If you are a carer or anyone interested in the challenge of providing the best kind of sharing then please add your thoughts. Put me straight if you can or just add your thoughts and start some discussion.