Polly Toynbee’s Death Bed

This post follows on from my blog last week about the “National Death Service”.

I wasn’t the only one to take note of the Jones report on early deaths at Gosport Hospital.    Just days after its publication, Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, had already reached some firm conclusions about the implications of the reports findings.    She has long been a champion of the case for assisted suicide.

After reading about the power over life that is entrusted to GP’s, which led to the premature death of up to 650 elderly people,  she concludes that we should legalise assisted suicide for all doctors.   I think the knee-jerk reaction of that decision, defies all common sense.

She caveats her proposal by at least saying that  “people should be fully alert”  when making their choice to die.  Therein lies the problem. Who decides when you are “fully alert” ?

  • Two doctors, one of whom in most cases will have never seen you before you were admitted to hospital and the other will probably never see you but rely on the word of the first doctor?
  • or A high court judge, who at best can only administer the case on paper to make sure the boxes are all ticked.  I don’t think they will do hospital or home visits ?
  • or Your loving relatives who are wondering how long they can pay the costs of care, or when they will get their inheritance ?
  • or A hospital manager desperately trying to find a spare bed for the next elderly patient waiting in a corridor in A&E.
  • or Your solicitor when you write your living will, maybe several years before you are at a low ebb.
  • or You yourself, when you have reached the depths of depression, ………… or are just lonely,………… or thinking you are a burden on everyone else.

It could be any or all of those reasons, but surely you need greater certainty to decide a death sentence.

I have written about assisted suicide many times in my blog (you can see all the earlier posts on this subject by clicking on “Assisted Suicide” in the TAG CLOUD).  I have always been on the opposite side of the debate to Polly Toynbee but not with the same degree of certainty that she seems to have about legalising the process of assisted dying.  It has been the subject of much discussion in the House of Lords but a change in the current law has never been accepted in the House of Commons.

There has always been a quiet collusion between doctors, patients and their relatives about the final days of people’s lives and though it is not strictly legal, no prosecutions have resulted from this, as far as I am aware.  I support and accept this position, provided there is the involvement of all the parties.

However, with every case of abuse of the process, like the current one at Gosport Hospital, or the earlier example of Dr Harold Shipman, or the widespread adoption of the Liverpool Pathway protocol, the move to legalising assisted suicide gets ever closer.  What’s more the inquiries that follow such abuses, inevitably create a climate of fear among doctors which prevents them from taking compassionate action for individuals.

Posted in Assisted Suicide | Tagged | 3 Comments

National DEATH Service ?

Is this the new name for the National Health Service ?

After the recent report on the many premature deaths at Gosport Hospital, you might well think so, at least as far as older people are concerned !

I am not going to repeat the shocking headlines that followed the publication of the report by Reverend James Jones KBE, the Chairman of the Gosport Independent Panel on the possible 650 murders of older people (the word murder is my own description, the report only describes “death” because at this point there have been no convictions at what happened at Gosport).   You can see Reverend Jones’ summary in the foreword of the report by clicking on the following link.  https://www.gosportpanel.independent.gov.uk/panel-report/foreword-section/foreword/

The central culprit is Dr Jane Barton – a GP working as a clinical assistant at the hospital.   After the report was published, she was away on holiday in Majorca.   There are also her many other accomplices who assisted with the crimes or helped bury the evidence.   I will bet they would all like to be in Spain right now, it is a haven, or should that be hidy-hole, for people trying to forget their past.

It’s taken years to reach this point but the report’s conclusions are very damning.  I will leave others to decide the fate of the many people involved.   No doubt this will only be after many more years of re-investigation, public and private enquiries and endless belated heartfelt meaningless apologies.

However, I believe what happened at Gosport is only a headstone in a much bigger graveyard of early deaths of older people across many hospitals in the NHS.    I doubt they will ever be investigated because it will be too far a bigger scandal for anyone to contemplate.    I’m not talking about dignified, consensual death, where there has been the active involvement of the patient, their relatives and a compassionate doctor.   Those kind of deaths have gone on quietly for many years.   What I’m talking about is the callous disregard for older people’s lives in a fast-track conveyor belt of NHS express care, where doctors and nurses are rushed off their feet and constantly pressured to empty beds for the next patient.   Where hospital managers are measured on patient throughput and financial efficiency rather than healthy outcomes for patients.  Where regulators who should be safeguarding patients are more concerned in ticking boxes rather than making sound judgements.

There is a deeper and much more significant issue underlying this whole situation.     Born out of ageism, disrespect and disregard of older people.    Born out of the cost to society of people getting old.   Born out of Politicians’ false promises and cowardly dishonesty over decades.   Born out of a collective failure to face up to the reality and lost opportunity of an ageing population.

It need not be like this, if we all wake up and accept the there is more than enough money tied up in the property owned by the majority of older people to pay for their care in later life.   Also the NHS is increasingly more capable of looking after their acute health care needs, however what they are not good at and have never been funded to do, is look after chronic long-term conditions.

If we don’t want a National DEATH Service, we need to strategically rethink how we are going to deliver a National Health Service for older people.

 

Posted in N.H.S. | Tagged | 3 Comments

Cloud Surfing – Grand Canyon Adventure

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.  All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to the USA.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer who lives in Alaska.  Her blog is called Gullible’s Travels and her name is Jeanne Waite Follett.  My thanks to her for sharing her excellent travel stories.

 

We organised some spectacular adventures for older people when I ran the ExtraCare Charitable Trust.    Some residents sailed the Tall Ship across the Channel which was too scary for me.   Others went to the Commonwealth Games in Sydney and had a spectacular time in Australia.   Some went gambling in Las Vegas and others walked on the Great Wall of China.    (You can see some of these stories earlier in my blog by clicking on “ExtraCare Traditions” in the TAG CLOUD).

However, Jeanne Follett has made some equally adventerous journeys which she has written about in her blog.   Below are some of the photographs from a particularly challenging trek in the Grand Canyon.

The scenery already looks spectacular but the trek looks quite straight forward at the beginning.

Travelling down into the base of Marble Canyon you need to hang on and have a head for heights.

I don’t want to steal Jeanne’s thunder, so if you want to see the rest of the adventure, you will need to click on the link below.

http://gullible-gulliblestravels.blogspot.com/2010/12/grand-canyon-journals-chapter-ten-last.html

The photographs are great and the story of the journey is interesting.  You can follow it all from your armchair by looking at Jeanne’s blog.

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

 

Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 3 Comments

Cloud Surfing – Resurrection Pass, Alaska

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more of my travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to Resurrection Pass.

 

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer who lives in Alaska.  Her blog is called Gullible’s Travels and her name is Jeanne Waite Follett.  My thanks to her for sharing her excellent travel stories.

 

 

 

Before I went cloud surfing today, I went out walking with my personal trainer – a cockapoo called Coco.

 

 

 

She takes me out for a walk most days.

 

 

So today in my cloud surfing, my attention was grabbed immediately by a little dog called CooBear.  CooBear features in a blog about a trek through Resurrection Pass, which I must admit is a bit more adventerous than the fields around Kilsby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read the full story by clicking on the link below.

http://gullible-gulliblestravels.blogspot.com/search/label/Resurrection%20Pass%20trail

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

 

Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 6 Comments

Cloud surfing – The Cape of Good Hope

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more of my travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to South Africa.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer who lives in Alaska.  Her blog is called Gullible’s Travels and her name is Jeanne Waite Follett.  My thanks to her for sharing her excellent travel stories.

 

 

The photograph below is of Hout Bay, just outside of Cape Town in South Africa.

This is the start of a cruise to Seal Island and if you follow the link below, you can see some excellent photos of the seals and other wildlife that the first explorers must have seen when they rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

http://gullible-gulliblestravels.blogspot.com/search/label/Seal%20Island

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

 

Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 4 Comments

Care Home Time Bomb!

The title of this blog is taken from the front page headlines of the Daily Express on Tuesday 5th June 2018.   It’s a report from an investigation carried out by the GMB Union which investigated the level of arrears of older people living in residential care.   The figures are quite startling:-

  • 160,000 pensioners and disabled people are in debt as they cannot afford to pay residential care bills;
  • Nearly 1200 people have been taken to court by Social Services because of social care debts;
  • 78,000 have debt management procedures started against them for non-payment of charges.

If this is the situation, and it may be understated because not all Local Authorities responded to requests for information, it is certainly very concerning.

But I am puzzled ????????

If people have no assets, I thought the Local Authority was required to pick up the bill.  Alternatively if they owned a house, the Local Authority should pay the bill and take out a charge on the property which would be redeemed when the house was sold.   So why would Local Authorities be taking people to court for non-payment of fees ?

I must be missing something ????????

Successive Governments have confused the picture by continually reassuring older people and their families that they do not have to sell their house if they move into residential care.   Of course that’s understandable if there’s a spouse continuing to live in the house, but otherwise, what reason is there for not selling your house if you move into residential care?

Another explanation  for being in arrears is that many residential care homes now charge higher rates to individuals than the fees they agree with Social Services.   At one time, top up fees were not allowed but now it seems they are an everyday occurrence.   Therefore it’s quite possible that arrears might accrue from higher charges than Social Services deem eligible.   But in this case, I would assume the home owners would be the people taking court action.

The article does not delve into the issue more deeply to examine exactly why the debts arise.   But, with care home fees being as high as a £1000 a week and 160,000 people being in arrears and generally court action not taken for some time after people have gone into arrears, you could imagine that the overall debt must be COLOSSAL.

If each person was just £1,000 in arrears, that suggests there could be as much as £160 million owed by residents.  That can’t be right ????

 

Posted in Residential Care | 1 Comment

Treat older people like rubbish

My post last week talked about the Daily Mail’s latest campaign to get people to clean up plastic rubbish.   Now my local council in Daventry has just introduced a new system for rubbish collection designed to recycle just about everything and save the world.   In the meantime, the County Council – Northamptonshire, has just about gone bankrupt, supposedly because of the rising costs of social care for older people and children.

I’ve got a suggestion for them.   They could learn a lot about what to do with older people from the care and attention they have paid to introducing the new systems for rubbish collection:-

  • The rubbish collections are still going to be done every week – how about if they called in on older people while they’re at it?
  • The rubbish is going to be sorted tidily into separate boxes – what about clearly defining the needs of older people in the same way?
  • The rubbish should be cleaned thoroughly before throwing it away – how about thoroughly looking after old people’s needs with the same attention?
  • Finally, the rubbish is sorted into separate bins – what if having defined older people’s needs they then provided specialist support like homecare, meals on wheels, residential care and nursing care to those who need it?
  • If you don’t comply with the council’s procedures for rubbish, you may well be fined – how about if the council were fined every time they don’t provide for older people’s needs?

If older people were treated with the same time and attention that local and central Government expected us to treat our rubbish, then maybe the system of social care could be reformed with the same energy and concern that is shown for plastic bags!

Posted in GRUMBLES | Tagged , | 3 Comments