I may be unusual in not treasuring my possessions above social contacts. I have not read comments on the programme Protecting Our Parents broadcast on Thursday 17 April 2014 on BBC TWO, but it made me livid.
We were presented with three people at the end of their lives. They were in favourable circumstances with caring relatives, competent medical and social carers. And yet what I witnessed on the TV screen is, near enough, torture. Yes, I feel that discharging from hospital vulnerable, dependent old people to their own home with no constant social contact is inhuman. The rationale for this is that this is the patient’s or relative’s choice and that staying in one’s own home is the most desirable option when people become vulnerable and at risk. This choice is a false choice. Attitudes are formed long before extreme disability has isolated the old person and in the grip of extreme fear of the care home.
If it was possible to establish excellent care homes where people can have human contact as much as they desire, where they are looked after by trained, well paid, unstressed staff, only then would the choice be a free one. This was so well demonstrated in the programme. The most independent and articulate old woman, Betty, who was so determined to keep her home and go back to it, soon forgot about it once she spent two months in a decent care home. She blossomed there.
Margaret Thatcher ends her life in the luxury of the Ritz hotel, ordinary people who cannot afford the price of good care homes are sent home to fall and break bones in solitary confinement.
“There are worse things than care homes” Prof. Kirkwood