Today's rumpus about elderly people being mistreated by carers comes as no surprise. To call it a human rights issue, as the Equality and Human Right Commission has today is to dehumanise it. It makes it sound like a bureaucratic thing when it is actually much, much worse than that. It is a problem that is much more common than most people imagine and is a symptom of a serious flaw in our society.
I've blogged previously here and elsewhere about my family experiences with the NHS and how my mother-in-law was left housebound because of abuse in a hospital, so I won't go into it all again, just click on the link if you want to read more. But today's report is very scary indeed. The Telegraph covers it here.
My parents-in-law need a high level of care. Both are knocking on 90 and are frail and not in brilliant health, my mother-in-law can't walk more than a few paces and then with a zimmer frame. They have carers who come in morning and evening supposedly to prepare her for bed and to get her up. But they turn up at all hours and are often brusque and unhelpful. One was actually caught emptying her commode into the kitchen sink. Similarly they have hot lunches delivered but can often seem like late breakfast or early dinner and the quality can vary incredibly. They are often talked to and treated like cretins.
Thankfully, after much chasing of their local social services department they are going into a sheltered scheme that provides extra support. But my wife and her sister have had to spend day upon day chasing up social workers who seem to be permanently in meetings or away on training courses or just don't understand the system. It took a formal complaint to get action. Thankfully my in-laws have two intelligent and capable daughters fighting for them, God help those who aren't so lucky.
Our position is not so good. For the first time we have wondered today about our old age. There is just the two of us. No daughters to fight our corner if we end up struggling eventually. And people claim we are in a progressive and enlightened age. Or, maybe this is a consequence of years of progressive and enlightened policies.