Time for a ‘Silverline’?

In 2011, Care on December 5, 2011 at 7:30 am

In yesterday’s Sunday Times it was reported that Esther Rantzen has called for a ‘Silverline’ equivalent of Childline for ‘older people’ (often, but not exclusively, defined as persons aged 65 years and above, see EHRC FAQs). This call comes hot on the heels of two hard-hitting Reports in recent months, both critical of the quality of care received by older persons. In October, the Care Quality Commission reported their findings on Dignity and Nutrition for Older People and in November the Equality and Human Rights Commission published Close to Home: An inquiry into older people and human rights in home care.

The CQC inspected 100 hospitals to assess whether older people were i) treated with respect, and ii) got the food and drink fit for their needs. Of these hospitals, 20 failed to meet one or both standards. Further, the EHRC found that almost 500,000 older people receive care in their own homes, paid partly or wholly by the local authority, and while many received care that respected their human rights, it cautioned that this is not a ‘universal experience.’ Of those who gave evidence to the inquiry around 50% expressed satisfaction with the home care provided, but many examples were given that breached the human rights of the recipients.

Calls too are being made for the government to follow in the steps of the Welsh Assembly (and Northern Ireland) and to establish their equivalent of the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales. Whether by ‘Silverline’ or by Minister, or both, the demand for action to protect vulnerable older people is gathering pace – almost 6 years since one of its neighbours deemed older people important enough to have a minister of their own (Wales, February 2006).

  1. Many older people live in desperate circumstances and these are likely to get worse for many over the next few years. A ‘Sliverline’ helpline for older people would be very useful. Even if the money could be found (where from?) and volunteers recruited (who by?) is there any desire on the part of the establishment to be ‘told’ directly just how serious is the problem?

  2. That’s the question really isn’t it?
    Late last month a ‘Grey Pride brigade’ delivered to Downing Street their 137,000+ strong petition calling for a dedicated Minister for Older Persons (see http://www.greypride.org.uk/profiles/blogs/grey-pride-petition-delivered-to-10-downing-street-on-grey-pride- & http://www.anchor.org.uk/about-anchor/anchor-news/anchor-and-sector-news-466). In October 2011, Ed Miliband appointed Liz Kendall MP as the Shadow Minister for Care and Older People (albeit not a ‘full’ shadow cabinet position), building on Gordon Brown’s appointment of (now)Baroness Joan Bakewell as an independent voice for older persons in the previous government. Since last year’s election no-one has held this ‘post’, but the coalition government are reported to now be considering the possibility of a dedicated minister. Time will tell …

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