Greater London Forum for Older People. Question time

The GLF (Greater London Forum for Older People) supported by AGE uk organises a yearly Question Time at the House of Commons. This year the speakers were:

Segun Oladokun – Head of Inspection Adult social Care, Care Quality Commission and Professor Martin Green OBE – Chief Executive Care England

Paul Burstow MP chaired. 

While the sessions the previous two years (see links below) made me angry, this time I came home deeply depressed. When my partner asked me what was the point of these sessions, I was at a loss to say anything.

Segun Oladokun would have been insulting had he not mentioned the lack of trust we have in the caring agencies but instead of giving us facts and figures about the situation  he talked to us about the purpose of the CQC and the change of approach to their practice.   His last words were that the services were variable. A member from the floor commented that indeed there are very good homes if you have the money but there are no resources to fund good care for all. One contribution summarised the situation. The government delegated the social care services to local authorities and the local authorities handed the responsibilities to lowest bidders care agencies.  The contributions from the floor were testimonies of appalling conditions rather than questions. At no point were we given facts and figures about the state of the quality of care present at the moment.  At no point was the question of local authorities’ resources raised, and at no time was  the government blamed for an austerity programme that penalises the vulnerable.

Martin Green Chief Executive Care England. He started his speech by accusing the local authorities of lacking creativity. He carried on later with the argument that there is inequality between the treatment of old people and the treatment of children/people with learning difficulties. The question to be asked he says : “Are old people treated the same as children?” and that we as members of the GLF should fight for equality of treatment. He invoked society’s ageism for the fact that old people with dementia are neglected. To me his judgement is flawed. The question is not the equality of treatment within a ring fenced limited budget between two sections of the population who have no voice  but enough resources and finances in this budget to fulfil the needs of both groups. Mr. Green OBE seems to have discovered ‘ageism’ and urges us to combat it. Did he not realise that his argument itself is ageist by its very nature of comparing groups on the basis of age rather than needs? If he considers that the needs of children/people with learning difficulties are well met, shouldn’t he fight for an adequate  budget that would permit old people’s care to be as good?

It is the second Question Time where we, the audience of old people, all involved in voluntary activities, all busy working on the ground  are harangued by officials. We are told to agitate, to ask for our rights. But we have no power. The people who could make a difference, are people like the speakers we are invited to question. They should be our representatives, they are the ones who should hold the government, the care corporations, the share holders to account.

This site : social care in the home november 15/11/ 2011



Simone’s thoughts on ageing and disability

It is Josephine’s post that inspired me to write this. I am 79 and have been in retirement for 20 years. For the last twenty years I have gone through constant adaptations: to  the liberation from work, the loss of working in a team, the freedom of travelling where and when I liked, the new responsibilities of looking after my parents, their death, the involvement in political activities, the  new social networks, the role of an active grandmother, the children’s separations divorces or other crisis.

Now nearly 80 I am getting progressively deafer and my energies are declining. The two losses conspire to make me conscious of what I fear most of all about ageing : isolation. My children, grandchildren and step grandchild (child of my son’s partner by another father) live in other towns. I see them on holidays or during the rare visits they have time for. I have no friends who live locally.

I have always relied on public transport and distances did not affect my attendance at cultural and social events. Now I tend to avoid these not only because of the effort necessary to travel long distances but also because once there I do not follow most of what is being said on the platform or the noisy environment. Theatre going is out and English and American films are often hard work. The foreign ones with subtitles are the most comfortable.

I talk to old the old women who sit next to me on the bus. I am often told : “Well one has to get out doesn’t one”. “You cannot stay at home all day”.  “I like going to the shopping centre it is an outing isn’t it?”. Will I get to this stage?

I fear the creeping isolation. Will I be able to adapt to it?.





Nadia thoughts on ageing and disability

From the OFN Newsletter No 210 October-November 2014

Greetings everyone, old age ain’t kind as many of you know, but it comes to all of us if we are lucky enough to live that long. I count old age from 80. I’m now 83 and having had many falls and fractures, I find I can no longer do all the things I have been used to doing. My latest fall involved a fracture of a vertebrae ten weeks ago and I’ve been in a brace for eight weeks so far. I have been told I can start taking it off at the end of this month. Hurrah!! So how has it been? Frustration, anger, depression come to mind, and the question: why has this happened to me? I have gone from feeling down to being optimistic. It’s like being in a long tunnel but trying to keep in mind that there is light at the end that I am working towards. I am lucky to have my son nearby, and a wonderful cleaner who helps out and does the shopping. My friends all live far away so cannot visit often, but we keep in touch. I remain optimistic; it’s a long way back. I do exercises every day, sitting in the chair – arms legs neck ankles wrists. It is essential we keep our muscles working, especially in old age. Life is good. Miss you all.

Josephine thoughts on ageing and disability

First appeared in the Older Feminist Newsletter No 210 October-November 2014

1. Old age lasts a long time – I’ve been drawing the old age pension for 25 years!

2. It is a dynamic process, with physical fitness and abilities constantly changing and imposing the need to learn different behaviours. For instance, after slipping off a kerb and fracturing my pelvis while talking as I walked, I learned to watch my feet all the time. Similarly, after misjudging traffic speed while crossing the road after dark, I learned I could no longer run without falling over (and thoroughly frightening a poor driver!)

3. There is also a reduction of cognitive abilities. I can no longer count on completing crosswords.

4. There is no point mourning all this. I think of it as a survival tax.

OFN newsletter Subscription: £10 for six issues (every second month) or £6 concs. Overseas: £18 by cheque (in pounds sterling only) or Western Union. Recipient’s details for Western Union: Molly McConville, 60 Gibson Square, London N1 0RA