Class War’s Ian Bone on his experience of Tory Britain’s social care provision:
I’ve just spent 10 days in respite care so my partner Jane can get a break to go on holiday with her daughter and grandson. Believe me it’s 24/7 care looking after an advanced Parkinsons Disease person like me.
The respite care saw me getting to stay in a local residential care centre – arranged by Social Services in Croydon accommodating residents over 65 and at the time 3 residents with Parkinsons.
I can sum it up my stay thus:
Many if not most care staff have little knowledge of Parkinsons Disease symptoms and many consider symptoms like ‘freezing’ a matter of determination and effort rather than illness.
I was pushed and pulled and reproved for lack of effort by the night staff on my first night. The worst offender concluded for all to hear “don’t bother to answer his buzzer again he’s had enough attention”. This proved a constant theme: if you buzzed for a staff member you were told you were preventing another older/more ill person from getting seen and thus the dominant morality was decided.
Another commonplace was to tell all that “he was walking fine earlier when he thought no one was looking” or “he can run with a walking stick when he wants to”. I was also left alone in the shower on one occasion which goes against their policy. When I questioned this I was simply told “we don’t have enough staff” leaving me at risk.
Parkinsons was viewed mainly as a tremor but otherwise widely seen as a matter of will power. I would say now after 10 days for reflection that I was on several occasions scared. I reported this to the Administrator (who was absent for the latter part of my stay) and the night staff boss who appeared shocked and blamed agency staff and said they would take action. The situation was improved by the end of my stay.
The care centre also overbid for what level of service they could offer – they had no bull bars on the walls to pull yourself up with from your bed but claimed there were “plenty of workers who could do it” – there were only two care workers on duty all night. This boiled down to lack of money – lead to frustration among workers who take it out on residents.
The worst example I saw was when a care worker snatched a book from a resident who was eating her dinner and reading a book at the same time – “the kitchen for you to eat not read a book”.
Does this reflect treatment of Parkinsons sufferers throughout the UK? There is little written about this so we simply don’t know. What we can say is there is an urgent need across the care sector for working with and understanding Parkinsons.
There were many good people working at the home, but they’re not the ones who will stay in my memory.
Image: Guy Smallman