There's been one this week about about meat and eggs used in NHS kitchens not meeting animal welfare standards. Quite right too! But let me tell you that there's something far worse going on in hospitals and care settings up and down the land. Frail older people with dementias and other diseases which mean that they cannot advocate for themselves are regularly suffering horrendous abuse. And all of our need to be shouting from the rooftops when we see it. If there is anything that the general public can learn from the Jimmy Savile case, turning a blind eye to abuse is no longer acceptable.
Take for example my friend's father, who she found in a hospital bed wedged against metal cotsides with a call bell cord around his neck. Or the home where I found another old gentleman in an unmade bed in a suite of rooms that looked like a drug addicts den. He was confined there, not allowed to leave even at mealtimes, as he 'upset' other residents and paid for the privilege too! The list could go on and on but it saddens me too much to recount stories from myself and my colleagues, all which were passed onto safeguarding teams to investigate. I know that these are not rare isolated incidents because of the frequency with which we come across them at work. I glean further evidence to back up my belief that this is widespread from the horror stories that are often recounted to me someone finds out that I work in older adult mental health serves. There is some extraordinarily good care out there that would be fit for my mum or dad if ever they were in the unfortunate position of needing it but this should be the absolute norm. At the moment, I would be very vigilant if any member of my family was in a predicament that lead to hospitalisation or residential placement.
I know that there has been increased publicity about these goings on over the last few years. But I wonder if change would be accelerating at a much faster rate if the victims were fluffier and cuter like children or puppies rather than people whose illnesses can render them unattractive in appearance and behaviour. Let's hope that it takes much less than twenty or thirty years for this abuse to become entirely unacceptable. And report it if you see or hear of it, even if it takes a good ninety minutes, like it did for me the other day, in a dreadful fiasco involving both Birmingham City and Staffordshire County Councils to find someone to take responsibility and record my concerns.