Every elderly patient to get personal NHS care co-ordinator. Really Mr Hunt?……

Please,Mr Hunt, stop with the soundbites and treat us with some respect. Every elderly patient to have personal worker to co-ordinate their care.  Really???

This issue is far to serious for soundbites Mr Hunt, older people in this country can face unimaginable cruelty in our care system, whether it be on the hospital ward, a private residential or nursing home or in their own homes.

Understanding of the nature of abuse and maltreatment older people might experience now parallels that of child abuse.  Referrals regarding abuse received by two adult social service departments suggests in England ‘Older people dominate the abuse landscape’ (Mansell et al, 2009).  Experimental statistics regarding the abuse of vulnerable adults from the NHS Information Centre support this finding, where 61% of referrals were for older adults aged 65 and over (2012).

From a European perspective research findings suggest older people’s experience of ageing in the UK falls behind that of many of its European counterparts, with the UK performing most poorly on indicators such as income, poverty and age discrimination (WRVS,2012).  The report states “the UK faces multiple challenges in providing older people with a positive experience of ageing, scoring poorly (although not always the worst) across every theme of the matrix” (WRVS, 2012, p.8).

 This provides a troubling vision of older people’s experience of ageing in the UK. It is contemptible that any government would seek to address this serious issue with what is a clearly ill thought out and unsustainable idea.

Older people’s experience of ageing in the UK can be improved, and it is all of our responsibility to try to achieve this.  However, we first need a coherent strategy to bring about the change desired by many who work with older people.  Government in the UK tend to address issues associated with an ageing population in individual ‘silos’.  Research from Europe suggests those countries taking a joined up approach where government consider how factors such as income, health, age discrimination and inclusion interact , the more successful policy approaches are likely to be to improve the experience of ageing.  However, any action needs first to take a long-term approach and have a strong ethical foundation founded on a clear understanding of, and agreement to, promoting older people’s equality and human rights across the political divide.

For many staying out of harm’s way is a matter of locking doors and windows and avoiding dangerous places, people and situations; however for some older people it is not quite so easy.  The threat of abuse is behind those closed doors,on the hospital ward, in the residential home or in their own homes, well hidden from public view. For those living in the midst of this violence and fear permeates many aspects of their daily lives.

Those older people deserve so much more than spin and media soundbites from any government.

About digalpin

I gained my social work qualification from the University of Southampton and worked for 14 years in mental health, disability and older people services. I am currently a senior lecturer in post-qualifying social work at Bournemouth University and am conducting research on government and societal attitudes and responses to the mistreatment of older people in health and social care provision for my doctorate. My views are my own.

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