Cultivating Quality Awareness in Corona Times

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Guus Timmerman, Andries Baart, Jan den Bakker

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: quality of care; Covid-19; relational caring; care ethics; practical wisdom; mismatch; humanness; solicitude; habitability

The Covid-19 pandemic is a tragedy for those who have been hard hit worldwide. At the same time, it is also a test of concepts and practices of what good care is and requires, and how quality of care can be accounted for. In this paper, we present our Care-Ethical Model of Quality (CEMQ) and apply it to the case of residential care for older people in the Netherlands during the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead of thinking about care in healthcare and social welfare as a set of separate care acts, we think about care as a complex practice of relational caring, crossed by other practices. Instead of thinking about professional caregivers as functionaries obeying external rules, we think about them as practically wise professionals. Instead of thinking about developing external quality criteria and systems, we think about cultivating (self-)reflective quality awareness. Instead of abstracting from societal forces that make care possible but also limit it, we acknowledge them and find ways to deal with them. Based on these critical insights, the CEMQ model can be helpful to describe, interrogate, evaluate, and improve existing care practices. It has four entries: (i) the care receiver considered from their humanness, (ii) the caregiver considered from their solicitude, (iii) the care facility considered from its habitability and (iv) the societal, institutional and scholarly context considered from the perspective of the good life, justice and decency. The crux is enabling all these different entries with all their different aspects to be taken into account. In Corona times this turns out to be more crucial than ever.

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