Some of you will know that my 90 year old Mum ventured into the occasional blogwriting moment last year and was genuinely surprised when people actually seemed interested in her views! This says a lot about how older people perceive their role in the UK and a far cry from the way that the wisdom and experience of old people are revered in many societies. Anyway, people WERE interested – including lots of kind people commenting on the blog itself – and indeed Mum has had several requests to “guest blog” for others. I am hoping this will give her confidence and motivation to write further blogs (or ideally begin her OWN blog) this year.
… My suggestion along these lines has earned the perennial “We’ll see” or even the occasional “Whatever”. Mum can be quite “down with the kids” when it suits her.
Anyway, Mum WAS interested when former Care Services Minister Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP asked her to write a viewpoint for ‘Dilnot: do or die?’ an important document which has just been published by CentreForum.
The pamphlet explores and makes recommendations on the long-running issue of paying for care. I was keen to support this as paying for care is indeed a “long running sore in the social care system”, as described in the publication, and one which successive governments have kicked into the long grass.
I particularly approved of the ‘Whose Shoes?’ approach, seeking contributions from different perspectives. Ming Ho, a previous guest blogger in our “in my shoes” series has written a very powerful piece from her perspective as carer for her “self-funding” mother.
It is unusual but wholly fitting that one of the people most directly affected by the change in question writes the introduction of a document like this. So this is what ‘J, 90, from Warwickshire’ has to say…
“We Expect Better From Government“
I don’t think I ever thought about needing long-term care. But my friends started to go into care homes and apartments and I was urged, by the family, to think about it. My daughter took me to visit very nice places where people live in their own flat and can mingle with others to chat or be entertained. But I felt this was definitely not for me – at least for now.
My husband had absolutely no intention of moving. Perhaps it would have been better if we had gone somewhere together. Moving is such a huge decision and, of course, irreversible. At least one friend is not very happy despite being in a comfortable, sought after home. So I guess many elderly people, like me, just put their heads in the sand and get on with their lives!
The government should explain the necessity for saving up, but many old people might not understand and could be frightened by this. For most, it is too late to start saving anyway when you retire. It would all have to be very carefully handled. Could the government do it?
I think it is very unfair to have to use so much of one’s savings and property to pay for care and I consider the means-tested allowance to be ludicrously low. I read now that this might increase in 2015 – three years away. At 90, three years is a very long time indeed! I am very disappointed that this government – as previous governments – talk so much about this issue but have so little sense of urgency.
In the meantime, the lottery continues. Depending on what you get wrong with you, how long it lasts and how and when you eventually die, the financial outcome ranges from “free of charge” to “losing everything”. I don’t think there is even any insurance you can take out to cover care home fees, certainly at my age. You just have to try to stay healthy and hope!
I wonder if many people are even aware that social care is not free. They will be very angry indeed when they are told so. They will talk about the billions of pounds this country sends abroad for overseas aid, some of which would appear to be totally unnecessary.
I suppose all this applies particularly to people of my generation (a diminishing number) who lived through the horrors and deprivations of the Second World War. Younger people have no idea what this was like and I hope they never have to find out for themselves. But the war instilled in my generation a culture of saving rather than spending, putting others first and “making do”.
It is all particularly difficult as many older people struggle to understand the value of
money these days. For my first job, I was paid “£2 17s 6d” per week. Today this would just about buy a Costa coffee.
My generation have paid their taxes and saved hard for what they now own and never asked for anything. We expect our elected government to look after us better now.