Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Care of the elderly in the United Kingdom 2012

Residential 'Care' Home. (?)

My mother  ( as I wrote in an earlier post) is currently an inpatient in a rehab' hospital for the elderly. The care is fantastic, the impression given is that the place is a 'Hospital', the patient's appear to be treated as individuals I have nothing but praise for the staff.

Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the representative of Birmingham Social Services that I have encountered. The family & mom had a meeting with this Social Worker recently. We were steered to the ward dining room where other patients were sitting and there she 'told' us what the future plans were to be for my mother. We were told that mom is to be placed in to what she euphemistically called a "residential care home". We were told that mom is a "risk, hasn't mental capacity, (though this has not yet been tested!) wanders nightly & therefore requires 24 hour care. The families suggestions were ignored & we were told that on the 11th September 2012 mom would be taken to have a "look" at one care home -we could come along if we so desired.
The whole meeting (as I stated in the earlier post) had the effect upon me similar to what the effect upon Sonny Liston suffered when Cassius Clay caught him on the chin with his vicious right hook! It floored me. I was taken aback, totally unprepared for the comments/decisions made & the subsequent disempowerment.
However I have now collected myself & managed to discuss the meetings/decisions with the family.

So we visited the Residential 'Care' Home. It was a very modern building privately owned by an organisation. There were 56 residents-all appeared to be 65+yrs in age. As we went through the door the- (I assume she was the manager who was showing us about)- said to the social worker in the presence of my brother, me & mom-"is this dementia or elderly care?" I'm afraid I was a little corrective of her when I heard this comment/question, reminding the 'warden' that mom and family we present! The hackles rising within me as they were.
  We were shown about- it was clean, warm all the things you would expect. People seemed happy & content. However, doors to the lovely garden were locked. Residents were not allowed out alone no matter how much or little capacity they had. The 'warden' spoke of a "duty of care". What utter bollocks!-"duty of care" should include continuing to allow (& constantly reviewing the understanding that the individual has of the concept)-the resident access to personal space & freedom.
We were shown a (locked) shop for the residents-a pretty neon sign was flicked on for our benefit as the 'warden' opened the door!)-mom was told that she "can buy EVERYTHING you need from here, you need never go out to the shops" There was a hairdressers on site, quiet rooms it was a rabbit warren of rooms to be honest.
But my strong unshakable belief is that people benefit from spending time in the community-be it at the local shop or the local community hairdressers. Indeed I also believe that the wider community greatly benefit from sharing the community with the widest diversity of population possible. Great emphasis is placed in our society on racial & religious understanding & sharing but the elderly are excluded from this equity. They are locked away, appear to be generally denied the privileges of  broader society & community living.
Mom in fairness said time & time again that she wanted her "own home". The social worker & 'warden' attempted to dissuade her from this. However at this point I'd seen & had enough of this disempowered, dysfunctional way of housing people in pens not dissimilar to battery chickens. I spoke up & strong said that mom be listen to, that we would not allow her to become a resident of a residential home (unless she strongly desired to become one). She should be allowed to go to her home (or a more suitable accommodation) & try out independent living. I refused to allow the authority to allow mom to be sent away-no matter how difficult the relationship is & has been to date between us. It is my duty.

What sort of society do we live in that allows those who have contributed there time, sweat, blood & money to the established infrastructure of it to be shut away & disempowered once they reach an age deemed by that society to be of no further use??
Shame on that society.
 Shame & damn the United Kingdom Health & Social Care 'Service' 2012. Shame & damn Birmingham  Social Services.

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