TWO YEARS AGO I wrote a blog called “Dignity be Damned” in response to a report extolling the virtues of a then new initiative. (See it by clicking on the ARCHIVE April 2010).
The trumpeted campaign was led by the Elderly People’s Champion – Michael “here-today-gone-tomorrow” Parkinson. He called for people to sign up as Dignity Champions and raise the standard of care of the elderly. The new approach was so instantly successful that Mr Parkinson was able to move on — without any dignity. He obviously saw the way the market was changing, so now you can see him regularly on TV adverts, championing funeral plans !
Since then there have been numerous reports chronicling the appalling care the elderly receive in the NHS and in residential care. (See my earlier blogs by clicking on “Neglect Shames Britain” in the TAG CLOUD).
Third world malnutrition and dehydration; willful bedsore neglect; cruel failure to give pain relief and constant misdiagnosis of dementia are everyday occurrences in the NHS. This needs ruthless elimination !
Somehow the new “Commission on Improving Dignity in Care of Older People” with a large pair of rose-tinted glasses managed to look beyond all of this and completely miss the main issue – MONEY.
I will comment in my next blog on their recommendations.
There is nothing much to argue with in the report, indeed its 30-pages and 48 recommendations are difficult to disagree with. The problem is that 48 sticking plasters won’t heal a dying patient. What is needed is major surgery.
The NHS is bereft of leadership at all levels starting at the disempowered paper-not-patient ward sister level. Rising through the myriad of meddling, muddle-targeted health authority managers; right up to the head in the clouds, never responsible, dithering, withering politicians.
On the social care side of the divide, Social Services are too often focused on political correctness and human rights, while the elderly sit and wait. Meanwhile residential care operators are starved of resources and have an uninspired vision of a better life for older people. The Southern Cross example of corporate greed does not suggest that more money in their pockets would be used to improve the situation.
Sadly, although the commission report received front page headlines “Britain is failing the Elderly” in the Daily Telegraph, its serious point was lost in grasping the shallowness of the “dignity” message. This newspaper article, along with others that followed, were misdirected into condemning on how elderly people are addressed as “DEAR” or “CHUCK”.
I’d have to say that if you were starving me to death in hospital and hadn’t given me a drink in 24 hours. Then call me anything you like just —-
GIVE ME A DRINK AND FEED ME !
P.s. I will comment on the recommendations next week.