In the article below featured in The Times, Philip Collins states that the UK care ‘scandal has been a long time coming’ and will be the scandal of Covid-19. Collins stresses the inadequacy of the UK’s approach to care and highlights the strengths in the US and Australia. He claims that housing purposely for ageing in place is key to the solution.
I have been on a personal 15-year mission to change this. It is tragic that it has taken a pandemic to kill tens of thousands of our loved ones for this to come to light and finally bring this underlying issue to the shocking attention of society.
Let us not waste this time – and change this forever.
To read a summary of Philip Collins’ piece see below. Head to ‘Better care for the elderly begins at home’ to read the full article.
Coronavirus has exposed the inadequacy of our care homes and highlighted the benefits of US-style retirement villages.
Thursday May 14 2020, 5.00pm, The Times
“When the reckoning is done on the extent to which poor government exacerbated Britain’s Covid-19 crisis, it is likely that care homes will be the scandal. Infected patients were moved from NHS beds with no consideration of whether the care homes they were sent to would cope. Staff in the care homes were not given enough protective equipment. As the Nightingale hospitals lie all but empty, thousands of elderly people are now dying in care homes.”
“There needs to be an immediate and decisive series of reversals. Residents and staff must be tested. Where the quarantine facilities are inadequate, residents need to be taken back to hospital. Truly, this is no country in which to be old.”
“This scandal has been a long time coming, which makes it all the worse.”
“The range of options is limited. There are three ways to fund social care. We can wrap it into the NHS and fund it through general taxation, or perhaps a hypothecated levy. We can ask the individual to pay, drawing on savings which might be mandated through a social care auto-enrolment scheme or equity released from the family home. Or we could do some combination of those two options, …— the individual pays £30,000, subject to means, and then the state steps in.”
“So, here we are, with this dreadful, unreformed, unloved system in which we are hot-housing infected patients unto death. There is a lot more to this neglect than a technical argument about the money transfers. Beneath the administrative complexity there lurks a failure to deal with the fact of ageing. While the public conversation never gets beyond the right to hang on to a property asset in perpetuity, the official policy is to keep elderly people in their own homes as long as possible, until it is too late for any option other than institutionalisation in a care home which will be, in effect, segregated from polite society.”
“Care at home or a care home. That is all this country, a rich nation, can offer. Living at home sounds desirable but it leads to a generation of isolated, lonely, vulnerable people in houses that are hard to maintain, expensive to heat and may not be near enough to shops. An occasional 15-minute visit from a care worker does not do much to alleviate the boredom. In residential care homes, older people can be cut off from family and friends and do not enjoy much space of their own.”
“…we need to think a lot more imaginatively about how old people end up in care homes in the first place. Nobody lives through middle age looking forward to their last decade in a care home. Nobody actively chooses a care home. The best way to prevent further care home disasters is to have fewer people in them.”