Ok, I admit it, I'm 38, turning 39 in October. The big 4 zero is looming, and I'm already getting grief from younger colleagues both at work and in the hockey team. Our midfield is so bald it looks like a box of eggs in plain view.
Is it too young for me to get worried about long term care? OK, maybe that's a bit neurotic. But my Nan is 92 and still in her own home. My parents are 60 and 70 odd. What is the future for them?
Front page of The Times today has an article on Southern Cross Healthcare being in financial difficulty. It’s a story I've tracked in the business pages for a while, but its suddenly front page news. Why? Well if they go under then 750 care homes are up in the air. That leaves around 31,000 residents not knowing where the next meal will come from. Local authorities will have a duty to step in and reorganise the care. But it could literally lead to deaths due to the disruption of moving home and potential gaps appearing in the care of vulnerable people.
There are also some stories of care home providers charging people extra fees in addition to the local authority payments. Why would you refuse when you are trying to ensure the best care for your elderly or vulnerable relative? It’s certainly worth getting an expert to check out the agreement. Local authorities may also be trying to unjustifiably cut back on payments.
But last night I also watched Panorama. It basically dealt with what was described as torture of vulnerable adults in a private care home in the South West. I don't think I've watched a more moving or terrifying programme. Residents were literally sat on, stood on, slapped, punched, dragged, and kicked for no apparent reason. In the space of 12 hours one girl with learning difficulties was subjected to two cold showers, and left outside, soaking in near freezing temperatures.
This was an establishment that had been approved by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on audit. That's the same CQC who ignored whistle blowing reports of abuse at the home.
Maybe it’s time for a more professional approach to care homes? That would certainly include more professional qualifications for support workers. Whilst I realise there is a cost to this, would you rather be looked after professionally or kicked around in your old age?