Health is the absence of sickness/ illness. It is also the state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing. Health is the priority since it‘s the desirable condition from which we deviate and to which we return. Disease is a personal experience. It’s a period of sickness affecting the body or mind. Advocacy is the public support or recommendation of a particular cause or policy while outreach is the extent of reaching out. In this paper, we shall concentrate on the outreach and advocacy with the Brazilian housekeepers in Boston. We shall major our focus on health and illness issues affecting the housekeepers.
In Boston, housekeeping entails professional cleaning of the entire home, paying special attention to bathrooms, kitchens, floors, Vacuuming, polishing, and scrubbing of houses is a responsibility of the housekeepers. However, the housekeepers require advocacy and outreach in the areas of illness and health (Home Sanitation, 1887). Social isolation, limited access to the goods and services, verbal or sexual abuse, stress, anxiety, and fear contribute to either good health or illness. Research has shown that 53% of the housekeepers do not receive rest breaks, especially for eating, during the working days. Moreover, around 44% articulated that they do not earn enough money to pay for their basic needs.
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However, plans are underway to help advocate housecleaners in Boston on how to improve their working conditions. As the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in Boston took effect, it became evident that outreach and advocacy were put in practice (Braithwaite, 2011). Typically, employers in Boston are not awful instead their problem is the lack of information about the industry. The availability of relevant information to the housekeepers is limited.
The Domestic Workers Bill of Right is one of the significant steps towards the outreach and advocacy for housekeepers in Boston. It is designed to provide the domestic workers/ housekeepers with sick time, meal breaks, safer working conditions as well as time off each week and easy procedures if they want to file complaints against their employers. Additionally, the bill reaches out to ensure that safer chemicals are used in the cleaning of houses (Gould et al., 2004).
Housekeepers are the most vulnerable employees in their occupation. Their exposure to danger, illness, and injuries that eventually affect their health is considerably high. They experience three times as many falls, slips, and trips along with exposure to harmful substances or environmental conditions as compared to other workers. The proposed bill is meant to protect the housekeepers from the use of harmful chemicals and instead to use safe, natural products for cleaning (Braithwaite, 2011). Moreover, it is meant to help them get insurance in case of injuries and therefore receive a free treatment provided in such accidents.
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The augmenting work-related injuries and unpreventable diseases are causing alarm. Therefore, the CDC Health Disparities and the Inequalities Report (CHDIR) calls for an increase in housekeeper’s wages to cater for the high costs associated with treating the injuries and sickness. The state in conjunction with labor unions are providing support to the domestic workers on this issue.
Moreover, housekeepers in Boston are being supported by labor advocates in association with the unions and the state to use less toxic chemicals. Incentives are being made by the groups working to implement the using of safe chemicals, particularly by the green cleaners’ project members in Boston (Gould et al., 2004). Efforts to ensure that environmentally friendly products are available to users are also under way. This advocacy ensures protection of housekeepers and consideration of their health issues.
The access to the goods and services is restricted for the housekeepers in Boston as they lack control of their healthcare decisions and often receive inadequate health care. However, this is changing given the privacy provision of the Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights meant to protect workers from forced labor and enable access to the goods and services at home (Kirshner, n.d). Following the statistics of National Domestic Workers Survey in 2011-2012, 25% of housekeepers lacked at least 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which is vital. The lack of sleep leads to physical and mental exhaustion, which eventually may lead to functional impairments such as reduced vigilance, slower reaction time deficit in information processing (Braithwaite, 2011). The provision of the bill will resolve this health issue, protect workers’ right to private space and advocate for an improved access to private sleeping quarters to have sufficient hours of uninterrupted sleep.
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Stress, anxiety and fear are some of the major contributors of illnesses. They downstream to negative health outcomes such as fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, unhappiness heart diseases, diabetes nausea, and sleeping problems (Gould et al., 2004). The Domestic Bill of Rights will protect the housekeepers against stress and fear in their workplaces. Abuse amongst the domestic workers has been rampant, especially verbal. Often, house helps in Boston are verbally belittled, intimidated, and isolated (Wolf, n.d). This attitude causes depression and other related health issues. The incidences of sexual abuse, where they are molested or raped, cause fear, trauma, diseases, and reduced job performance. The provisions forbidding physical and sexual abuse will tonic this issue.
In conclusion, it is quite evident that the state, in collaboration with labor unions, is working towards advocating better treatment of housekeepers of Brazilian origin in Boston. As discussed above, there are various advocacy and outreach measures aimed at improving the working conditions of the housekeepers. Those policies together with other advocacy strategies will improve the working environment of the Brazilian housekeepers in Boston.