“Cowardly Inaction”

There are now almost daily reports in the press about the failures of our social care system for older people.  It is no longer a disaster waiting to happen, it is a catastrophe unfolding before our eyes:-

  • Report after report on the inadequacies of long-term care in the NHS which borders on willful neglect.
  • The financial collapse of the Southern Cross Residential Care Company, which is probably only the start of a bigger implosion of highly leveraged (bankrupt) private care organisations.
  • Inadequately resourced Social Services having to restrict their support to only the most desperate of cases ——and then only after a deliberately long and drawn out assessment process.
  • The almost complete removal of attention from care in the community.  Leaving vulnerable older people in their own homes with a virtually unregulated domiciliary care service.

I could go on ——-and join the Christmas concern about loneliness and isolation; — or the winter-approaching brest-beating anguished cries about the cold weather and high energy costs; —–or the deliberate erosion of pensions by inflation; —- or the collapse in value of savings with zero interest growth.

But what is the point —- nobody is listening.   Society doesn’t care — at least until your own relatives bring the problem closer to home —- and then it is too late.

This is not a winge at the beginning of a New Year.  It goes way beyond that   –    it’s            O U T R A G E  at the way we treat the older generation.  Nor is it a new phenomenon – it has been the emerging and now prevailing attitude of society for a good many years, as we have increasingly focussed on ourselves.  The changing demographics of an ever older population are something we would rather not think about, so we bury our collective heads in the sand.

Our political leaders are a reflection of our own short-sighted indulgence and know they won’t be voted back in by making us face up to our underfunded futures.  So they express concern but do nothing – witness the Southern Cross debacle (for earlier posts, click on  “Southern Cross” in the TAG CLOUD).   They feign serious intent by commissioning Andrew Dilnot to report on care funding and then ignore the recommendations completely.  The Dilnot Report was a constructive attempt to chart a politically acceptable way forward.  It failed to gain support because it’s £1.7 billion price tag allowed the Government to claim it was too expensive to implement in the current economic crisis.  If anything, Dilnot should have been bolder and made all but the poorest pay for their own care, which might have enabled the politicians to accept the recommendations and blame Dilnot for the unpalatable outcome.

What is missing is a total lack of political leadership and a complete failure to tell the simple and plain truth.  Our increased longevity, which is a blessing for the majority of older people, means that we have not saved enough for later life, particularly if we become frail in our final years.  It’s nobody’s fault, it is just reality and not facing up to it leaves several generations of elderly people in limbo.  While elderly services collapse all around them.

Most elderly people cling to their house like a life raft in a stormy sea rather than downsizing or releasing equity to provide for a better life.  Desperately hanging onto a life raft is not the best way to live out your retirement but the alternatives are not that good either.  A place in Spain until you become frail, —- a bedroom in a Southern Cross home,  —- dubious advice from sharp-suite financial advisors,  —- exploitation by door knocking salesmen with everything from hearing aids to new front drives.

When you need medical care, your GP, with go-away pills, is your first option.  Thereafter you’re in a queue for assessment – Social Service denial – accident – emergency admission -and if you’re lucky a bed – where they will give you MRSA –  and no food or water !

Still, the Politicians with their extra houses, will no doubt  avoid the worst of the deluge and manage to retire to calmer seas.


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1 Response to “Cowardly Inaction”

  1. Cheers 237 says:

    Dear John! You have set me a puzzle today? That is how to answer you? I like you are frustrated and annoyed with the establishments way in the handling of the Southern Cross debacle, and the’ skimming off’ of profits to the moneyed men?
    You make a very strong and accretive point that the politicians of the day reflect our own views, and it is this opinion view that maybe should be altered? With the caveat for leadership and vision.
    All ready bites of the cherry have been taken! Downsize, care bonds, community living/centralisation of services provision, all for the elderly?
    On reflection, I feel like telling you and the establishment to ‘Get Stuffed’ and to mind their own business!! However John you have a very pertinent point, and have helped supply an alternative solution to this ongoing problem, by your past actions.
    I follow your thoughts, and to a greater or lesser degree agree with them.
    People are growing older than in the past in greater numbers, and in various degrees of mobility, infirmity, and financial resources. What is required is a very hard look at the way of life today, in a holistic way?
    The retirement age has been increased to 70 years, and the pension age increased to say 68. When one looks coldly at this figure one is like the ‘flogged horse’ and worked until death, without recourse to a reflective and relaxing old age in retirement. Coupled to this is the mortgage stranglehold of property interests, and then having an asset which is of value, but little cash to support the upkeep and way of life in retirement.
    I believe we tend to look at retirement, after we have completed our working life? What our body clocks tell us is maybe after 53/55 or so while we may be mentally alert or physical attributes are declining?
    I liked and still adhere to your principles which you set up with the ‘EXTRACARE CHARITABLE TRUST’ and their/your Retirement Village Concept of the way forward. It may have its critics, and it has its faults but by enlarge the positives outweigh the negatives.
    What I like about the ‘EXTRACARE CHARTIABLE TRUST Ideals’ is as I describe below:
    The Extracare Charitable Trust’- My ideals!
    Initially at 55 one can join a retirement village as a friend or enrol to be a resident. There are plenty of village activities to take part in physically and mentally stimulating. One meets fellow human beings over the age of 55, and can join in activates with the +90 year olds who still participate in physical and mental activities. Again one can be a volunteer and help in reception at the gym, village reception, library, server in the restaurant, cafe, bar, village retail grocery/newspaper shop or the Village entertainment group ( Who organise outside acts and groups to provide special evenings and day events), or lead a group activity, such as any number of card or board games, physical activities, knitting/sewing, Painting in various mediums, bowling short and long mat, curling, Ty Chi, line dancing, belly and Sumba dance classes, IT suite, or pastoral activities such as push a wheelchair on a morning out to a local cafe, help a wheelchair based shopping trip, or run and join in with a reminiscence, or Alzheimer’s group. Then we have the well being volunteers and nurse who register blood pressures, pulses, on a weekly basis. The list and interests are as you make them?
    As a resident one becomes part of this scene ducking and diving taking part/leading, or even watching (people that is ?).
    Hidden Advantages
    Our village has some 250+ apartment some occupied by couples some single people. Extracare and the partnership in the Village established that a third of the flats would be social/ A third shared ownership and a third lease hold. This ensures we all remain with our feet on the floor and have to integrate as a community. From my personal experience this has worked, and with the overall population One Third on support (health wise)- this in not restricted to just the 1/3 social: and overall the age profiles are graduated such that the majority population is 72/5 or thereabouts, then as one becomes acclimatised to the village, and its organisation then one learns most importantly from one’s peers, about, age related mobility, family, community interference by management, care package priorities, and of course death. One learns very quickly, but with respect and reverence about one’s own demise and the death of others. There are lessons to be learnt in how to deal with ones affairs, deteriorating health, and estate.
    I do not live in cloud cuckoo land, and it is a most rewarding place to reside, complete with its faults? Most of which are caused by familiarity, and lack of understanding as to what The Extracare Charitable Trust are striving to achieve for our own personal benefit.
    In your article above John you mention downsizing of one’s original family Home, and the buying of a care bond-(Earlier comments) Here if one acts responsibly, and after downsizing invests money equivalent to the care bond then one can with all honestly say one has been a responsible citizen. I agree one cannot be an Extracare Charitable Trust Villager and rely on Extracare or the STATE to provide a home for life without consequences? But if one is prudent one can have an enjoyable home with care in the home for life with a lifestyle for life!
    You can do something to help- Act Sensibly, with courage and tell the politicains what you want? Not what I or other people want? I still struggle with the Southern Cross debarcle, but I believe and hope I have found some salvation in what I have chosen!

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