Why care about carers?
in Ethical and legal debates in Irish healthcare
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This chapter considers why we should care about carers and engages with different theoretical approaches to recognising the caring relationship and the implications of this for those involved in such relationships. In particular the chapter considers an approach grounded in the ethic of care and one based on relational autonomy. The chapter engages with an area of Irish health law where carers are clearly excluded from the legal framework – the mental health system. The mental health system is a useful case-study as it illustrates the complexities around balancing the interests of carers and cared for persons. The chapter concludes that it is important to care about carers, but doing so must be in a manner which continues to respect the distinct individual rights of each of the parties to the caring relationship.

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