I am so angry again. I attended Question Time in Parliament organised by the Greater London Forum for Older People: Awareness Week Question Time on Social Care within the home – Who should provide your social care – your neighbours or care professionals?
That was no Question Time. That was Time to show contempt for old people.
The audience of over 100 was composed of old people and over 2/3 were women. It was obvious that all are involved in community activities and volunteering. Most probably a lot of us are carers or/and cared for. Instead of giving us space to interrogate the MPs, armed with our own extensive pooled experience of ‘care in the home’ issues, we were served a so-called debate. The Minister of State for Care Services (Paul Burstow) gave us some flannel about the coalition’s plan for reforming social care services. He affirmed that social care has never been free or intended to be free and promised us a white paper for March. He then disappeared to attend serious Parliamentary business. The Labour MP (Jeremy Corbyn) appeared ten minutes before the end and talked generally about pensions and poverty and urged us to support the 30th November action.
We were left with the debate between Prof Heinz Wolff and Dr. Helen Carr. It is the arrogance of the Professor which was so insulting. He talked to us as if we were a stupid crowd with no knowledge of the subject. He insisted that his scheme care4care of an army of volunteers motivated by the prospect of being looked after by neighbours in the future would give their time to deliver social care in the present. It is the only way to solve the problem of care in the home he repeated. His premise was that there is and will be a crisis in the funding of care in the home and that we cannot ask the government for money. He stressed time and again that his solution to this problem was the only one possible. He urged us to think scientifically and look at the figures which demonstrated this. If we did not agree with him it is because we live in cloud cuckoo land. The tone of his presentation gave the impression that he, a man, a scientist who is in a position of being able to pay care, knew what is best for us, the others. Just like the cabinet of millionaires is telling us that cuts in our social services are absolutely necessary
Dr. Carr did challenge him point by point and effectively in a very reasonable way. She did express what the majority of the audience knew and felt. But she was defending the case for the status quo, not proposing an alternative to the Professor’s bizarre scheme. A contribution from the floor did demonstrate in a small way that there are ways of providing alternatives to the Professor’s proposal and poor state provisions. (See OWCH )
That was no question time or debate. The knowledge and experience of the audience was not represented on the platform. The vision of what social care should look like and how to fund it was not presented. At a time when there are protests all over the world by the 99% against social inequalities, the sense of outrage at the treatment of the old and vulnerable was not present at this meeting although some of the floor contributors did show their anger.