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Friday, 4 November 2016

”I hope I die before I get old!”

People not Policy

I started writing this article mid-way through writing an article entitled Person Centred Care, the two simply came together as ultimately they both have the same outcome.

We need to be more focussed on the individual than on what policy dictates.  I did struggle with this article though, it wasn’t a simple as putting words down, I needed to be honest we you the reader and with myself.

I don’t like policy, fine they help guide us through our jobs but they seem to be so restrictive.  I deal with people, people I work with here at the Edith Ellen Foundation, the elderly people I meet in our journey to achieve a better standard or care and the families of those I meet.

The biggest issue I have seen to date within the vast majority of services I have been to is Poor Care, and this is ultimately down to a lack of funding.  Lack of funds causing our older people to essentially “hop” from service to service, and the Local Authority have strict policies on top up funding, so if you can’t pay you can’t stay.  We touched upon this topic in our article Means-testing excludes too many - cuts have made elder care today look like the Breadlines of the 1930's and 1940's

But can you believe that in 2016 some older people are nearly starving to death or freezing to death in care homes (these cases have been widely reported on and the CQC aware).  The majority of the public have no idea and with most care decisions made at a “point of crisis” remain so until a loved one is the victim of poor care or abuse.

We may be living longer but we are not always living better.  Many care homes lack stimulating activities.  Staff shortages and high workloads see residents imprisoned in chairs plonked in front of the TV! Person centred care! Where?

To reiterate Robbie Williams, ”I hope I die before I get old!”

Is it all doom and gloom?  The media, myself included never seem to show case the excellent care that is widely available.  Flagship establishments that are truly inspired do exist.  Wonderful carers with time to care, a home environment designed to enable, food fit for a King and activities to enjoy.

The media focus on the doom because the public need to know what can and does go wrong.  The difference between the best and worst care is huge.  I have seen it.  Grass roots not policy.
Good care costs, it has to.  Old age comes at a cost.  “Do not regret growing old.  It is a privilege denied to many.” but if you have little or no money you lose your right to choose.  Your care home will be allocated according to funds.

Social care needs to change.  Carers both paid and unpaid (you can’t call £62.10 per week Carers allowance paid) are exhausted, fed up, isolated and disillusioned.  Carers should be respected and appreciated for the challenging role they hold for their minimum wage.

Caring for the elderly, in my opinion, is one of the most important roles in society.  Giving something back to those who have contributed so much.  
A lifetime of memories from people who “were someone” and still are.  Whilst dementia may steal these memories person focused care and good care are a basic right not an afforded luxury.

As the future unfolds and with a predicted one million people living with dementia by 2025 we have a social care crisis.  Care costs cash and we need funding.  
Successive governments have played “pass the parcel” with this obvious responsibility the ticking time bomb no-one wants to keep when the music stops.

Do we have the answers?  No we don’t.  personally I’ve been leaving that to the policy makers but would not urge but beg them to listen to people like me, who see daily, the effect their decisions have on the elderly and their carers.  Grass roots should form policy.

Unless substantial funds are raised through increased taxation or NI or insurance companies offer an affordable care plan I genuinely fear getting old in Britain.
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