Friday, 28 December 2012
Clearing the air (2a) - they're shooting the horses!
Following on from the 'shoot horses' theme I see in today's news that there has been as drop of almost 25% in the number of older people using day care centres in England over the past three years. This figure comes from Age UK who say that the numbers of those availing themselves of lunch clubs and other day care provision is due in the main to financial pressure on councils.
The report highlights the potential for the elderly to find themselves "'Living out their last years in loneliness'. Meanwhile, the government says that councils received sufficient funding to protect services and that there was no justifiable reason for such services* to be cut.
It seems to me that removing services from the elderly is a simple exercise for these are one group who rarely have a consistent or effective voice. Something is closed and all that happens is that the people who used the services are confined to home and their voice is unheard. It is an easy win for those who are seeking to cut costs as the people affected just appear to vanish and, because there is little outcry, the deed goes relatively unnoticed.
Age UK say that during the previous financial year, council spending on old people's services had dropped by £500m - no doubt diverted to more important services! The reality is that the critical and high-dependancy needs are being met but those who are able to potter on are now being left to their own devices and this, regardless of the financial situation, has to be wrong.
Where I am we offer free tea, coffee, cake and biscuits two mornings a week and have an afternoon club for the older people around us and whilst this is something, it's not enough ('but where do we find those who are willing to come and open the doors and do the stuff?' cries a voice somewhere in the recesses of my mind)).
If you read this (and so apparently will) can I ask you to take an hour from your busy life and check on what is on offer where you live? See what your church, council and other organisations are doings and if the answer is 'nothing' then start making noises - get the councils, the churches and others off their backsides and help to reverse this diminishing provision trend; not because of some charitable thing, but because it is the right thing to be doing.
*day centres, lunch clubs, exercise classes, hairdressing, podiatry, social activities and respite care all come into this category.