Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Can we sink any lower?
Anyone who has ever had to take care of an elderly patient or relative will know that the provision for home care is patchy at best. Sick elderly people who live alone and don't have any close family are not able to take care of themselves. What home care there is available is about to become even rarer than hens' teeth with local councils determined to slash frontline services before reforming their gold-plated pensions and stratospheric salaries. Dave Cameron’s Big Society will have to take up an awful lot of slack to fill the void.
My own experience of care of the elderly in their homes includes a 79-year-old lady being left to nurse her sick husband , including having to change his catheter bag, administer drugs and deal with washing the bed linen once a day and changing bed sheets with her husband still in the bed. There was an offer of some care workers to pop in on a daily basis, but these individuals were pathetic excuses for help. They often arrived late, spent most of their time texting friends on their mobile phones and refused to do anything that involved lifting the patient or cleaning him up. Frankly, I don’t know what the point of sending them round was.
The same lady needed help herself last year. Her husband had died and now she needed nursing. The same useless bunch of poorly educated young girls turned up with one aim in mind: to get their time sheet signed – complete with falsified arrival times – and then to push off to the next ‘client’. All they did was microwave the old lady’s dinner and make her a cup of tea. In the meantime, she was left to sit in a chair that was soaked in urine.
And now our hospitals want to use the law to throw out people who need nursing and send them back to their homes in the care of useless carers, which, incidentally, the elderly must pay for. The number of spaces in council run homes or funding for places in private care homes has reduced dramatically so what's to become of these vulnerable people?
Is the NHS really proposing that we throw out elderly patients and let them fend for themselves? Because that’s what these proposals will mean in practice. Once again, words fail me that we can be such a barbaric and uncaring society that we can't even manage to feed, bathe and care for the elderly and give them a little bit of dignity.