I didnt watch Disptaches last night. The programme an expose on abuse and poor practice in BUPA care homes was another in a very long line of documentaries highlighting the appalling treatment of older people in some care homes. This should no longer be news to anyone but regularly as clockwork every year or two, another one will come round, people will be shocked, hands will be wrung, something must be done people will say and then that’s it till the next
People ageing without children are 25% more likely to end up in a care home. 25% more likely to end up in a system where if you don’t have anyone to speak for you, someone who actually cares about you and not just for you, you’re likely to be at the bottom of the pile. Bluntly those most likely to be speaking for you when you are in a care home are your partner/spouse (but as most people in care homes are over 85 the reality is they may not be around anymore or in a position to advocate), or your children or grandchildren.
If you don’t have those, who is there for you? The only answer is advocacy but advocacy in this country is scandalously underfunded and over stretched. Projects have been struggling for years to get funding with schemes closing or merging all over the country. Local authorities already struggling with austerity have focused increasingly on funding advocacy which is required by law such as independent mental health advocacy (IMCA) or advocacy under the care act 2014. General everyday on going advocacy is harder and harder to fund. Ironically of course this is now the time when it is needed more than ever. 1 million people over 65 in the UK already don’t have children and by 2030 this will double to 2 million. We are not in any way ready to deal with this as planners, policy makers, providers or as a society.
I don’t want to finish my life in a care home but frankly with no family to help to support me, I know it’s very likely. I don’t want to spend the last years of my life miserable, afraid and ignored knowing that even if anyone did notice how I felt, no one would care.
With social care at last near the top of agenda and with finally some public understanding of what it means, now is the time to do something, because if not now then when?