People not Policy

this picture shows a man holding a sign saying policyPeople not Policy 

When I was invited to contribute an article  on “The Future of Ageing” for the Institute of Longevity I was delighted yet challenged with my first question being, ” Can I be honest?”. Their response was affirmative but that it should be about policy not products.

I don’t deal with policy, I deal with elderly people. I try to help family members manage the negative effects of policy that are presented to me on a near daily basis via social media.

Poor care, lack of funds causing elderly people to care home “hop”. If you can no longer pay, you can no longer stay and the local authority have strict policies on top up funding.

Can you believe that in 21st century Britain some elderly people are nearly starving to death in care homes despite 1:1 funding. ( CQC informed and evidence to substantiate this claim). The majority of the public have no idea and with most care decisions made at a “point of crisis” remain so until a loved one is the victim of poor care or abuse.

We may be living longer but we are not always living better. Many care homes lack stimulating activities. Staff shortages and high workloads see residents inprisoned in chairs plonked in front of the TV! Person centred care! Where?

In the famous words of Robbie Williams, ” I hope I die before I get old!”

Is it all doom and gloom? The media, myself included never seem to show case the excellent care that is widely available. Flagship establishments that are truly inspired do exist. Wonderful carers with time to care, a home environment designed to enable, food fit for a King and activities to enjoy. The media focus on the doom because the public need to know what can and does go wrong. The difference between the best and worst care is huge. I have seen it. Grass roots not policy.

Good care costs, it has to. Old age comes at a cost. “Do not regret growing old. It is a priviledge denied to many.”but if you have little or no money you lose your right to choice. Your care home will be allocated according to funds.

Social care needs to change. Carers both paid and unpaid ( you can’t call £62.10 p.w. Carers allowance paid) are exhausted, fed up, isolated and disillusioned. Carers should be respected and appreciated for the challenging role they hold for their minimum wage.

Caring for the elderly, in my opinion, is one of the most important roles in society. Giving something back to those who have contributed so much. A lifetime of memories from people who were ” someone” and still are. Whilst dementia may steal these memories person focused care and good care are a basic right not an afforded luxury.

As the future unfolds and with a predicted one million people living with dementia by 2025 we have a social care crisis. Care costs cash and we need funding. Successive governments have played ” pass the parcel” with this obvious responsibility the ticking time bomb no-one wants to keep when the music stops.

Do in have the answers? No I don’t. I leave that to the policy makers but would not urge but beg them to listen to people like me ,who see daily ,the effect their decisions have on the elderly and their carers. Grass roots should  form policy.

Unless substantial funds are raised through increased taxation or NI or insurance companies offer an affordable care plan I genuinely fear getting old in Britain.

Caron Sprake. 48 and 2 days.

Caron

Award-winning blogger and care columnist for Devon Life magazine, Caron also campaigns for recognition of the needs elderly people and their carers. Designer and creator of the award-winning Dementia Assistance Cards which are free to all, and helping thousands of people globally Caron is passionate and committed to making a difference

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