Discussion Questions for Teachers

The Shape of Care podcast raises critical issues about a number of topics, including:

  • The nature of relationships between care workers and the people they care for, whether in a  home or in an institution;
  • The quality of care – or lack thereof – in nursing homes;
  • Current financing of our long term care system (via Medicaid);
  • The low-wage, gendered and racialized care workforce;
  • The lack of comprehensive long term care policies in the U.S.; and
  • The type of care we want for our loved ones as they decline.

This podcast aims to link personal stories to broader sociological and policy issues. Do you think it was effective in doing this? Overall, what worked for you in the podcast? What would have made it better?

General question:

This podcast aims to link personal stories to broader sociological and policy issues. Do you think it was effective in doing this? Overall, what worked for you in the podcast? What would have made it better?

Episode 1:
  1. Shazia and Darlen say they became very close to one another, describing their relationship “like family”.
    1. Discuss Darlen’s attitudes towards Muslims. What contributed to her attitudes, and what changed these attitudes?
    2. Do you think that Darlen’s changed attitude was just towards Shazia, or could it extend beyond her?
  1. Shazia is also paid to care for Darlen and her husband, Joe.
    1. What is it about the nature of “care work” that promotes emotional closeness?
    2. Do you see any problems arising out of this close relationship?
      – For Shazia, given that she is also a paid worker?
      – For Darlen?
  1. Ai-jen Poo, labor activist/expert, argues that for care workers who work in other people’s homes, it’s like “the wild west”, in that there is no HR Department, and there are no workplace protections.
    1. Listening to Shazia and Darlen, does it feel like Shazia is vulnerable as a worker in Darlen’s home? Please describe why or why this is not the case.
    2. From the perspective of Shazia and other home care workers, should there be protections for workers? If so, what should they be?
    3. Shazia joins the labor union, SEIU775. What drew her to the union?
    4. What advantages does being a union member provide to Shazia? Are there downsides to belonging to a union?
    5. Why are employers often so resistant to their workplaces being unionized?
Episode 2:
  1. What leadership characteristics does Shazia demonstrate that you think may contribute to her leadership in the union?
    1. Were you surprised when you heard Darlen’s response to Shazia’s union activism?
    2. If so, why? If not, why not?
  1. In your state, are home care workers represented by a union?
    1. If so, what union is it?  Can you describe the work of this union and its activities?
    2. What are the strengths and challenges of unionizing home care workers?
Episode 3:
  1. Do you know (or have you known) anyone who lives (lived) in a nursing home?
    1. If so, what’s your impression of the nursing home?
    2. Are residents getting quality care?
      – If so: What are some examples? And what contributes to that quality care?
    3. Are residents not receiving quality care?
      – If so:  What are some examples?
  1. Even if you don’t personally know anyone in a nursing home, what’s your impression of them?
    1. Would you feel comfortable placing a family member into a nursing home?
    2. What would you want to know about the nursing home before doing so?
  1. The small house model provides more intimate care to residents. What about that model contributes to quality of care?
    1. Could you imagine a loved one living in a small house model nursing home?
    2. Could you imagine yourself living in a small house model nursing home?
    3. Why is there resistance to funding small house models throughout the U.S.?
    4. Is the resistance mostly financial or are there other issues at play?
Episode 4:
  1. Ai-jen Poo says we need an infrastructure in the U.S. to provide care to all who need it. What does she mean?
    1. What kinds of policies do we need in the U.S. to provide quality care to those who need it?
    2. Should these policies be provided at the federal level, the state level, or some combination of both?  Provide a rationale for your response.
  1. This episode tackles the issue of death and dying.
    1. How did you feel listening to these stories?
    2. Were you surprised by anything in this episode about death and dying?
  1. Andrew Banoff, CEO of the Jewish Home, says there something called a “good death”.
    1. What’s a good death?  If someone dies a “good death”, is it less sad?
    2. How do you feel talking about death? Is it scary? A good thing to do? Both?
    3. How can people prepare for death?  Emotionally? With family members? Practically/logistically?