The Trinity is a sacred alliance that stands up for good over evil. The end of a life should be the celebration of all that has been good in a person’s lifetime. There are positive things to draw out of every person given birth on this earth. Lost in the past sometimes, but worthy of thanks nonetheless. That is why life is sacred – a gift given by God only to be taken away by God.
FIRSTLY, I have regularly been blogging since 2010 about assisted dying (see “The Slippery Slope” in the TAG CLOUD). A euphemism for euthanasia. A well argued case by Debbie Purdy reignited the debate (see “Lucy Died Today” dated 22 March 2010 in the Archive). Debbie’s arguments were based on the practical reality of chronic illness and the wisdom of planning ahead. I have always been worried that although the merits of individual cases have been extremely well argued, turning them into precedents leads us on to a perilous slippery slope.
SECONDLY, the more recent and disturbing headlines have been about the increasing promotion and use of a care planning tool – called the “Liverpool Care Pathway”. This well intended approach was designed for use as a pain management process in a highly controlled and caring hospice environment for those with a diagnosed terminal illness. Each word of this specification is critically important and was not meant to be loosely or casually interpreted. Neither should it be a basis for hasty decisions which exclude relatives.
THIRDLY, in the last two years the boundaries of these two clearly thought out positions have been blurred. It’s the extrapolation into the wider domain of the hard-pressed, cash-strapped, bed-blocked, express delivery NHS that takes on a much more dangerous complexion.
I have written throughout my GrumbleSmiles blog about a host of reports over the last two years referring to care of the elderly and the NHS (click on “Neglect Shames Britain” in the TAG CLOUD). Dehydration and malnutrition in the NHS have become recurrent features of care of older people in these reports. There is no grand plan here. Nobody took a clear decision and nobody now takes responsibility. “Nil by mouth” has become the “Black Death” mark at the bottom of the hospital bed. The unwritten, unspoken sign that an elderly burden on society may be too great a cross to bear.
It’s frightening and almost unthinkable to imagine that we may have inadvertently developed a new policy for almost two-thirds of the people who enter our hospitals.
A carefully planned approach to later life and a caring, compassionate end to life has emerged as an ugly monster of neglect.