Do we really care?

Upon visiting Twitter this morning, I was greeted with a link about yet another disturbing news story: “Regulator raises elderly care concerns”

The article began by saying how serious concerns had been raised by the NHS care regulator regarding the way some hospitals in England look after elderly patients. It went on to say how three had failed to meet legal standards for giving patients enough food and drink and treating them in a dignified way.

I found this bewildering. You can read the full piece here – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13545780

I can remember my grandmother being in a residential and nursing care home. This would be about 1989/1990 (I was much younger then).  It’s a while ago, yet I can still remember talk back then about poor standards in care homes and inadequate treatment of the elderly in hospitals and care homes.

Over the years, there have been numerous stories in the news about the same thing. And each time, we here the same thing, something akin to: “We deeply regret what has happened and have put a programme of new practices and procedures in place to take on board lessons learned and ensure this does not happen again.”

How many times have we heard people say something like that?

In the past, I think we have all taken this with a pinch of salt; the cynic in us has said ‘We’ll believe it when we see it.’

But what was once political or management rhetoric has now changed into cliché; strings of hackneyed phrases that are both insulting to and disbelieved by the General Public.

It’s 22 years since I had my first real-world experience of elderly care in a care home with my grandmother. Through the 1990s and 2000s, we’ve heard stories about serious care problems for the elderly and disabled. So how can we be in 2011, still seeing these news stories like the one today?

We’re not talking rocket science or heavy labour here – it is things like giving a person sufficient food and water, ensuring they are warm, well and happy and treating them like a human being.

Where are all these lessons learned?

Obviously, this ‘bad press’ is necessary to highlight problems; I do feel for the majority of nurses, carers and other care workers out there, though, that do a fantastic job. These people deserve far more respect and credit than they get. I also find carers’ and nurses’ pay to be incommensurate with the requirements and real-life demands of their job.

So the question “Do we really care?” is really one we all have to answer ourselves; each of our own inner voices will give us the true response.

If we take the past 25 years, do we not find it shocking and concerning that we still get these types of stories? That this could still be going on, despite all those reports, new procedures and lessons learned?

We have not just started to have hospitals and care homes – but it does feel that way sometimes when these things keep happening again and again.

I think there are more significant problems that need to be addressed that could translate into real improvements. I’m thinking of things like: better pay for nurses and carers; staffing levels; management that has relevant experience and knows what people have to deal with on-the-ground; appropriate per-person workloads and person-management; sensible limits on the amount of hours one person can work in a given period to avoid fatigue and mistakes; staff monitoring; better training; Government committed to and supporting nurses, carers and the care system for the elderly and disabled…. this list goes on.

I am no expert in this area. My opinion is based on my own personal experiences with friends, my grandmother and mother. I have experienced problems but by and large, the nurses and carers were brilliant and did an excellent job. Where they did fail was down to some of the things I mentioned above, including lack of staff and no financial resources for equipment.

I seem to remember David Cameron mumbling about “no cuts to frontline services”. What about frontline care services?

My mother is in a nursing home now. In her late 20s (before I was born), she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She did her best to try to carry on as normal throughout my childhood, despite being in extreme pain and difficulty every day.

In 2003, my late father died aged 61 and, sadly, my mother eventually had to go into nursing care, still only in her early 60s.

This year has been distressing. Having seen what the Government are doing to severely disabled people and what they are making them and going to be making them go through is chilling and immoral.

I do not see how one can have a conscience whilst at the same time support or implement such policies.

Their policies in this area make no sense.  They are illogical and paradoxical.  We have a “Minister for Disabled People” – Maria Miller MP – who is supposed to be there to work FOR people but who is actually implementing policies, which her Government devised, that are hurting and adversely affecting the most vulnerable and disabled people in the country.

I would ask, reader, that you take a step back and just consider this. How can this be right? How can this be just? How can we be tolerating this? I would like to ask people to write to David Cameron, to their MPs and to Maria Miller on this issue.

Another very disturbing news item this week is about how a government report on how it is implementing the United Nations disability convention fails to include a single mention of how the coalition’s spending cuts and welfare reforms will undermine disabled people’s rights. You can read the full item here: http://www.bhfederation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1212-government%E2%80%99s-un-report-%E2%80%98wilfully-ignores%E2%80%99-spending-cuts.html

How can we trust David Cameron, Maria Miller and the Government if they fail to tell the truth and disclose facts in a UN report?

You may find this link of interest: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=8387

Maria Miller was shot down in flames – she was challenged on the PIP timeframes, her numbers, her hearsay on the disabled groups she’s “spoken” to.  She was asked for evidence of the disabled groups that agree with PIP.

Maria Miller was also taken down on her comment that Harrington has not enough time to do the reports in 2 years, yet they want to implement 1.8 million assessments in 18 months. It demonstrates well the lack of aptitude and the asinine attitude of an unrealistic, misguided and naive Government.

I think we are starting to see a very disturbing pattern in how elderly and disabled people are treated and viewed.

Quoting the article again:

“In one case, a member of staff at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said they had to prescribe water on medical charts to ensure patients got enough to drink.”

Lest we forget that, we are all potential victims to illness and disability and one day, we are all old.

If we should care more, then that means doing something about it, rather than simply agreeing with the idea. Even if it’s only reposting this blog entry or writing your own, it all helps to raise the debate and interest in this subject.

Thanks for reading.

Links:

If you wish to support these issues, please feel free to link-to, share or re-post this blog.

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/#!/THemingford

Maria Miller – http://www.mariamiller.co.uk/

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Male. Married. 3 Children. No Pets. Concerned about the changes the new Conservative Government are introducing. Very concerned about changes that adversely affect the vulnerable and disabled people. Commenting on current affairs, music and life in general.

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