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



2 thoughts on “Greater London Forum for Older People. Question time

  1. What you’re talking about is of great interest to me because I work for a not for profit supposedly representing the interests of old people. I’m currently trying to recruit people to a sort of change-action group on a local basis (not that all the issues are local, far from it) and finding it difficult because people are used to asking others to bring about change, rather than seeing themselves as having power. That’s not the only reason, of course, and in any case it’s a fair cop – the authorities do have power and they discourage citizens from exercising any. But I think there are things we could do if we thought it was our responsibility. Nursing homes, for instance – who ever steps inside them, except relatives, official visitors, staff and inmates? If more of us made it our business to go to these places, if relatives and the community insisted on being involved, could we raise the standard of care? Or is it all about budgets? And if it is all about money, how do we influence that? Most of us leaving governing to the government (or council, or whatever) and just proffer our feedback or advice when asked, but could we be more active? I dunno.

    • Dear Beautiful,
      Thanks for reading me. I know by experience what you are talking about. I have been retired for the last 20 years and have belonged to many organisations concerned with old people’s welfare. I have attended so many conferences and consultations about old people. What I have observed is that the responsibility for the care and dignity of old people is firmly put on the shoulder of charities. Charities are often not helped financially by the state or councils. They are staffed by volunteers, in the majority women and their powers are very limited, with no influence on general national policies and local decisions. In London I know of one Pensioner’s Forum that includes younger people (over 50s) with some experience of the business world and is more effective than most because of its big membership. They are consulted by the local authorities about some decisions. But more and more the cuts implemented by the austerity programme of the government affects people with no voice. Community centres, some charitable organisations have been forced to close. Social care facilities have been abolished. It is left to religious communities to organise themselves to provide for their old parishioners.

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