Care – What Price Dignity?

“I’ve been to nursing care homes and I’ve sat in the car and cried…there’s no way my mum is going in there.”

Words can sometimes have the same effect as a punch to the solar plexus. These came from a report this week on Sky News about one daughter’s search for a home to care for her mother. To care. She found one and sold her own home to pay the fees of £1000 a week. I’ll give you a moment to take that in. £1000 a week. £50,000 a year. What price the love of a daughter for her mother?

It’s nearly seven years since my sister and I began the search for a care home for Mum, a search which ended happily at The Firs. We were lucky because my father had left us the wherewithal to find the best place we could. Hundreds, thousands are not so fortunate. The message is stark – if you have the money, (if you’re “self-funding” as if Mum had a clue what she was funding), you have a choice. If you don’t, you have to put up with whatever the state can provide.

There are some very good care homes out there. I know. I’ve seen one or two of the best and one or two at the other end of the scale. The prevailing view, though, is of a system in crisis and with good reason. The recent storyline in Silent Witness focussed on two horrific examples which has probably not done much for public perception, although the twist at the end made me smile and cry at the same time.

Away from the political posturing and departmental name changes to make us think that social care is suddenly a dominant issue for our leaders, one thing is abundantly clear. It is unacceptable in 2018 that good care should be dependent on the ability to pay. It’s about the dignity of every person who needs care. And it’s about our dignity, as a nation. If we can’t look after each other, if we can’t value each human life, then what are we here for?

 

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