Care homes are again in the headlines. The Daily Mail has once again raised its campaigning banner “Dignity for the Elderly”. It’s been a very long and wholly ineffective effort. It started way back in 2010, when I first began this blog and it has periodically popped back into the headlines ever since. ( You can follow my earlier posts by clicking on “Dignity be Damned” in the Tag Cloud ).
I have never been convinced about the campaign, it has been half-hearted, spasmodic and wrongly directed. You have to wonder if the Daily Mail really cares or are just trying to sell a few more newspapers.
In the early years the campaign was full of outrage and celebrities. Michael Parkinson lead the cause and was even crowned ‘Dignity Champion’. But he gave up quite quickly and moved on to selling funeral plans ! The Government set up a Commission which wrote a lot and recommended a lot after several years of study and then quietly faded away.
The latest revival, eight years on, is all about the high cost of residential care, with a sprinkling of outcry about the poor quality. But, it’s still not dawned that it is not about “Dignity” it is about abuse and shameful exploitation of vulnerable older people.
Residential Care has always been a “go-away” solution. Successive Governments over the last forty years have wished the problem of frail older people would go away. The ever-growing numbers of our older population have made the issue a financial nightmare, exacerbated by the high levels of dementia. But, the problem still won’t go away!
It’s not just the Governments that are to blame, they are ultimately in the hands of the electorate. Since every solution requires more money the politicians know they won’t get re-elected by suggesting expensive answers. Particularly ones that cost the children of the old people their inheritance, although I am not sure they are right about this. I’m sure the majority of children would wish their mother or father, who has to go a care environment, a happy life in older age and would certainly accept that they may have to pay more to cover the cost of this.
So the problem continues. The bottom line is that society as a whole wishes the problem of old people would “go away”. The long awaited Green Paper on social care, has been postponed for more than a year, but we are promised it will be published before the end of this year. Don’t hold your breath and don’t expect too much!