Friday, 17 April 2020

Why is Britain, besieged by coronavirus, a country where old men die in 'care' homes like 'Lambs to the Slaughter' ?

Jeremiah 11:19 :

"But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; And I did not know that they had devised plots against me, {saying,} "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, And let us cut him off from the land of the living, That his name be remembered no more."

Ros Altman 13:04:20 : 

"In all my decades of campaigning for the dignity of the elderly, there has been no clearer snapshot of how they are being abandoned like lambs to the slaughter. They are being left to die because we don't value their lives as highly as the young."

Ros Altman, who said this in the Daily Mail on monday, became well known in public life in 2002 when she led the 'Pension Theft" campaign on behalf of 150,000 workers and their families whose company pensions disappeared when their employers' final salary scheme failed. In 2011, she campaigned against the sudden, short notice increases in women's state pension age, achieving success in reducing the planned rises. In recent years she has turned her attention to the needs of the disadvantaged old men and women in Britain.

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme this week she said : "The average age of people in care homes is 85. Their lives are also valuable and they need the treatment and the equipment and the care that we expect for everyone else in society as well."

Britain in 2020 :

Most care homes in Britain are privately run and there is no data on the exact number of old men and women who live there as residents. However, the Care Quality Commission says that there are over 15,000 residential and nursing homes in England providing support for old and disabled people, with an estimated 457,361 beds available. Occupancy rates seem to be about 90% which would suggest that there are about 411,000 people living in care homes in England and Wales and the last census in 2012 showed that 60% of those in care were age 85 and over.

'Care England', which represents care providers, 'estimates' that almost 1,000 old people have died in care homes since the coronavirus pandemic started. This is an estimate because the Government in 'control' of Britain's response to the spread of the disease, doesn't know and hasn't taken steps to find out what the true figure is. Having said that, in any case, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, wouldn't be able to determine how many old people are succumbing to the virus because coronavirus testing is not being routinely carried out in care homes.

What we do know is that this pandemic has mercilessly infected 2,200 care homes and the pleas from managers of care homes for personal protection equipment, 'PPE' have gone unanswered.

Anita Astle is the Manager of the Wren Hall Nursing home in Nottinghamshire. When she finished her shift on Easter Sunday evening the suspected Covid-19 death toll among her residents had already reached nine. She had lost more than a third of the people she refers to as “family” to the highly contagious killer. Bedrooms were standing empty and staff were feeling “broken inside”.

On Easter Monday, this week, she awoke to news of a 10th fatality and said : “When is it going to end? I left the building at 8.30pm and he died at 8.55pm. It is just soul destroying. We have deaths normally, but they are good deaths. We have the family around the person. The first resident started with symptoms on 24 March. Since then we have had 19 people in isolation and four have come out of isolation. We are just having deaths all the time.”

The pattern emerging at Wren Hall, of residents deteriorating rapidly, after appearing to stabilise, has been reflected in the deaths of the thousand other old men and women who have died in similar circumstances. Anita said : “People pick up at day five or six and seem to be stabilising and then at day eight, nine, 10 they plummet. Their oxygen saturations fall and they have no reserves left. It is intense. We have people on oxygen, subcutaneous fluids and trying to manage temperatures with paracetamol by suppository because they can’t manage orally.”

Her “red team” of six staff are dedicated to trying to look after the suffering in masks, face shields and aprons, but she said that morale is taking a battering. “It’s getting harder and harder every day. We lose somebody and it gets worse. They are trying to keep up their spirits, but it’s not happening. We’re fighting a losing battle. The families are scared. There are families calling wanting to speak to their loved ones and wanting to Skype them, but we are also looking after people who are really ill. Sometimes you feel bad you can’t give them the time they want.”

Anita was scathing about the level of support she has received from Public Health Commissioners who “say we’re doing a fantastic job but they haven’t got a clue what this job is like now,” and there has been “no communication with Public Health England.” The epidemic has been “poorly handled from start to finish. Are people dispensable? It feels as if people are not worth saving. But that is certainly not how we feel.”

Campaigners from the 'Alzheimer’s Society', 'Marie Curie', 'Age UK', 'Care England' and 'Independent Age' called on the Government to provide more testing and personal protective equipment for homes. A joint letter said: “Older people’s lives are not worth less. Care home staff are not second-class carers."

Alan Walker, Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology, University of Sheffield said : "The deep-seated ageism that governs policies on social care must be abandoned and frail older people, thousands of whom die of cold every winter, must be treated as full citizens with the right to good-quality social care. When they die, the least we could do is count their numbers."

Ros : "We must not forget that the mark of a civilised society must reflect how it treats its most vulnerable and oldest citizens."

Anita : "Are people dispensable? It feels as if people are not worth saving. But that is certainly not how we feel.”

No comments:

Post a Comment