Posts Tagged ‘Dignity’
A beautiful morning; the roses are blooming, the row of lavender bushes is scenting the air and there is a shoal of fish on the surface of the shimmering pond. Even the hens are sitting around rather than doing their version of the great escape. So all is well in our world? Not quite. Since our average age is nudging a zillion, it is perhaps not surprising that we take more than a passing interest in the escalating problems surrounding the costs of care for ailing old ‘uns.
In a letter published this morning no fewer than 26 charities have demanded a joint political solution which brings “dignity and respect” to older people no longer able to care for themselves. They have timed this to coincide with the release of the report by Andrew Dilmot, the head of the independent Commission on the Future Funding of Care and Support. It will be officially released tomorrow and is expected to say that maximum costs of care should be capped at between £35,000 and £50,000 per person, or a third of the value of their assets – whichever is less. In other words no one will be expected to use up entirely savings accumulated over a lifetime, or to sell their home.
This is what happens now and it is seen by those who have been more thrifty as unfair. Once the individual has met their more limited financial obligations the state would take over payment but only at the basic rates for care set by local authorities. Those chosing a better quality care would have to meet the extra cost. Hopefully there will be proposals for more vigorous inspections of all homes to avoid a repetition of the scandalous abuse highlighted by the BBC recently.
The proposals are likely to be rather more complex that I am suggesting, and will undoubtedly be controversial. We shall have arguments about people who haven’t made any effort to provide for themselves and arguments about the role of the for-profit private sector. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we all hope to live to grow old, and none of us wish to suffer a life-end nightmare. Apart from the super-rich we really are all in this together, hopefully the politicians will, just for once, put aside their point-scoring and come together for the common good.
In this regard yesterday brought some encouraging news. Ed Miliband made a dramatic offer to join in cross-party talks to reform the long term care of the elderly. He made it clear that he has no pre-conditions, no hidden agenda. Take politics out of the situation and expect real progress. Will Cameron accept the offer? He will want to but there will be pressures from his right wing which will argue that the poor deserve what they get. But he must ignore them in the same way that Miliband has presumably faced down his left wing who undoubtedly believe that the rich should pay for the rest. Neither group is worth listening to, the hope for a fair society depends on a realistic and honest approach.
We would all like the elderly to end their days in peace, free of financial worries. But that is impossible unless we change the game and use every option, including insurance. We are all living longer and there is a limit to the amount of tax those still young enough to work can pay.
So for the first time since World War 2 we need a non-political approach, a coming together in common cause, a pooling of ideas. Will it happen? The ball is in Cameron’s court. We all need him to put country before Party. All? Yes, all. You may be congratulating yourself on not being elderly. Believe me, you will be before you can say zimmer-frame. Time has a nasty habit of passing quickly!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Tennis 2. Heart 3. Chris Tarrant 4. Australia 5. Frog 6. Dingle 7. Rot away 8. Five 9. Ten 10. Aberdeen
We were busy this morning battening down the chicken-hatches in anticipation of fierce wind and torrential rain. Not that unusual for June in this country, but the sort of spell that makes predictions that holidays abroad are losing their appeal look wide of the mark. I’ve noticed over the years that our topic of conversation tends to reflect the mood of the weather, it certainly did today because several of my pals were mulling over the Terry Pratchett documentray ‘Choosing to Die’.
In the programme the 63-year old writer, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, went to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland to see Peter Smedley, who has motor neurone disease, take a lethal dose of barbiturates. Asked why he wanted to make the film, Pratchett said that he was appalled at the present situation. Assisted dying is practised in the United States and at least three countries in Europe but our governments have always turned their backs on the possibility of adopting the same practice here. Pratchett is a patron of ‘Dignity in Dying’, which campaigns for a change in the law to allow assisted dying. Its chief executive says that it is about choice and protection..”People suffer at the end of life, and therefore people take difficult decisions about their own deaths. We need to face up to reality”.
Most of us that work daily on the allotments are of advanced years, and perhaps that is why the programme aroused so much emotion. Opinions were divided. Several shared my view that my life belongs to me and I have the right to end it if existence has become unbearable. I can easily identify with Terry Pratchett’s view of a disease such as Alzheimer’s.
But I ended up sitting rather uncomfortably on the fence because the case argued by Albert, Tom and others is that were assisted dying to be legalised a lot of elderly and infirm people might well be persuaded that they owed it to their carers to agree to end it all. Relatives wouldn’t do that would they? Oh yes they would, or at least some would. I have regularly encountered problems with relatives blocking the discharge of an elderly patient from an acute hospital ward to a nursing home. I was shocked at first but came to accept that the number one priority for such people was money not the quality of life of their parent.
Yet – here I go again swinging to and fro on the issue – I can see no earthly reason why someone who is rational, and capable of making their own decision, should be obliged to exist on when they wish otherwise. Perhaps the compromise should be a certification by a senior doctor that an applicant for assisted dying is terminally ill, is of sound mind,, has self understanding and is capable of making his or her own decision irrespective of the views of others. Under such a scheme no other applicants would be considered. The doctor would not be asked whether the decision was the right one, that judgement can surely only rest with the individual.
Michael Nazir-Ali, the popular retired Bishop of Rochester had no doubts. This was, he said, “science fiction”. The organisation ‘Care Not Killing’ said it was “a recipe for elder abuse and also a threat to vulnerable people”. Itts director, Dr Peter Saunders, accused the BBC of constantly portraying suicide in a positive light. The BBC itself received 898 complaints.
It is indeed a complex and emotional issue. Clearly there would have to be safeguards but I cannot shake off the conviction that someone like Terry Pratchett has the absolute right to end his life at the point where it is becoming, for him, unbearable. It is, after all, his life and his alone.
I have given this a lot of thought and can only conclude that there is no simple answer. Certain it is that I can’t imagine forgoing even one more day to see all that is beautiful in life. What do you think?
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1.Queen Elizabeth 11 2. Wales 3. The species 4. England 5. Jailhouse Rock 6. Hair 7. Cleo Laine 8. The Teletubbies 9. Shaken but not stirred 10. Hadlee
OVER 8 OUT OF TEN…..TAKE A BOW AND LET ME HAVE YOUR NAME!!!!!!!!!!!