It is impossible to ignore the increasing outcry against the coalition Governments fiscal policies that are putting elderly at increasing risk.
Reports of the elderly being abused and neglected in their own homes and care homes as illustrated in the recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report are not only shocking but in many ways unbelievable in a modern 21st century society. Of course reports such as this are also damaging to the many thousands of health workers and carers, and well run care homes that work tirelessly to provide the support to individuals and their families throughout the country.
This coming after what was a damning report by the Care Quality Commission that raised really serious concerns about the treatment of older people in care homes and NHS hospitals and the latest scandal of people paying for private nurses to care for their parents and grandparents who are in hospital.
The truest statement appears to be that of Sally Greengross, EHRC commissioner when she said “The emphasis has been on saving pennies rather than providing a service” something we are likely to see more of as the cuts in the supporting people budget come into force next year.
Locally the events in the past 2 years of elderly people being forgotten and the tragic end results, and neglect in a local care home cannot and quite rightly should not be ignored and has to be prevented from happening again in the future. The cuts that are proposed in reducing the support currently provided through the supporting people budget, cuts approaching 50% will increase the risk that the elderly face of neglect and abuse in the future.
The ‘we’re all in this together’ approach is all very well as a strap line for politicians but doesn’t take into account that we no longer live in a society where the extended family of the elderly live close by and can provide either the help required or even be in a position to monitor what help is provided.
As the cuts in the supporting people budget implemented by the Northamptonshire County Council and supported by the Borough Council administration begin to take a grip it will fall to the community to take on greater responsibility for checking on our elderly neighbours if we are to avoid local tragedies.
At this time of year with the weather becoming colder and the increased utility charges pricing them out of heating their homes effectively, as the opportunity to go out is restricted by the weather and a fear of moving around in the dark and as inflation eats into their standards of living the cuts will be especially damaging.
The report accuses councils of being guilty of age discrimination, spending less money on pensioners than they would on others with similar needs,and they do so because the elderly don’t complain for fear of repercussions.
It is for all us working together to complain and fight for those who do not complain and a start is to get to know those elderly vulnerable neighbours in our streets and communities and fight any move to cut their services and support.
It is what the May 2011 Borough election was all about, fighting cuts to essential front line services, supporting the vulnerable and is a basic principle on which I and many others continue to base our political philosophy.
It is a challenge I’m sure the good people of Northampton will take up.