“Dignity Be Damned 2”

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 —-


P.s. I will comment on the recommendations next week.

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3 Responses to “Dignity Be Damned 2”

  1. Vera says:

    Have you ever seen third world starvation? On TV like me probably and I suspect the suffering in the UK bears no relationship to it. I’m in Ecuador for a 3 month stay where people can’t afford the $4 it costs for a ‘private consultation’ and the medicine whilst costing a fraction of the price in the UK is totally out of their reach. They live without sanitation, toilets are a luxury; without sewerage and they are the lucky ones …. this is very far from third world though, comparative luxury, but it does grieve me to see you write about third world nutrition and dehydration in that way. Of course services need improvement and dignity must be provided and maintained, just be consider your comparisons very carefully and perhaps run a survey on where the elderly would rather be. Sorry to be like this your blogs are always interesting and worthwhile.
    I’d really appreciate it if you’d give Yates Court a message for me … I don’t have any email address to contact them and Liz & Bev will be wonderiing why I haven’t emailed. I would love to hear from you and from them.
    Best Wishes
    Vera Tyler

  2. 237 David Freeman says:

    Good to see emotions stirred, and considered replies stated. It is all in the mind: Is it not/ Of our income we pay in taxes and as a share of the GDP (The total available monies?) the NHS spends and devours an awful lot of our personal monies? As Vera so correctly points out there are those in the world without! We can if we wish make donations to such persons and people in such a plight:It is a personal choice? ( I leave the polictical choices for countries such as Ecaudor for the nations themselves- They are our fellow human beings and faiths and belivers of faiths have taught us to be compassionate?). What sticks in the craw is that with the NHS and its budet, I elect MPs to make choices, and sometimes I do not like the result, and the answer appears to be ‘throw more money at the problem? This maynot be the solution, what is required is good management and men in grey suits to make informed management decisions with compassion and reason, so that I among others may understand how my enforced monies- deducted at source are spent?
    We as a nation are supposed to spend a fair proportion of our GDP on foriegn aid to the less well off nations of this world? So Both Vera and John have a point of view, and I suspect it is very personal on how their personal income is spent? Can we save the world maybe not? can we save the NHS maybe not? However we have a duty to our selves, and our children as to how we vote for changes? if we so wish.
    Johns language is as Vera pointed out emotive, but what do you thinK? does he have a point? to whom and for what is our hard earned cash (A honest days pay and reward for an honests days labour), being spent on, should the NHS be privitised, and I pay my monies to whom I wish the servive to be provided by? (I think not-my forefathers and generations would then believe , and may turn in their grave? Vera’s question of Ecaudor comes to mind , yet again!). I give you the soap box! Please speak.

  3. Maureen o'Neill says:

    The amount of money wasted in the NHS is beyond belief.I lost a hearing aid – well I put it in a safe place when it fell out and I can’t find the safe place!!! I saw the NHS hearing lady who said they would replace it. I thought that would cost me £75 but no – it’s a free replacement.”You don’t have to pay”.

    Crutches, zimmer frames , bathroom stools, and even walkers are given to people and there is , as far as I can see no means of having it collected. Most of these things can be easily sterilised A friend, whose mother lives in Hertfordshire needed a zimmer frame. She was told by a friend to go to a certain place where, according to my friend, there was pile of them. On asking why they were there she was told they would be thrown away!!! Even if we can’t use things why can’t they be given to the third world (Like glasses) and why can’t people be charged for losing or breaking things the NHS have given them.

    We waste so much.If there was room I could list so much waste.
    Someone who had lost his crutch said to a senior Plaster technician, “IT BROKE”
    Have you ever seen a broken crutch? i haven’t. He was GIVEN a new set of crutches. No charge!!!!

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