LETTER: “Nothing happens” is not good enough

EVERY news item currently seems to be ‘spun’ into something political — and I mean party political.

I saw a Tweet recently which just about summed it up for me. The Tweeter suggested that because two separate sets of strangers had helped his wife carry some heavy bags this was down to a change in the political climate. He gave party political credit and criticism accordingly. This is absurd.

I am sure ‘the kindness of strangers’ has a longer history than its mention in Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar Named Desire (1947). Seeking to party politicise everything labels people as good or evil and makes tackling big issues far harder. It turns the possibility of genuine discussion over how to deal with really big factual problems into arguments over who has committed the worst thought crimes depending on your ideological point of view. The result? Nothing happens. That is not acceptable.

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The ‘Dementia Tax’ (funding of long term care) debate during the May General Election was unedifying. It missed the point and has again resulted in ‘nothing happens’. The facts of this big issue are: There are 5.4 million people in the UK aged 75+ (ONS). In 2027 it will be 7.5 million. There will be one million people living with dementia in 2021 (Alzheimer’s Society). An astonishing 445,000 days a year are spent in hospital from delayed discharges due to lack of homecare in England alone (NHS England). These facts have to be dealt with. If not hospitals will become even more overloaded and people will die. That is not an ideological or political point. It's an (observable) fact.

Facts can be addressed in different ways depending upon your point of view over what is best. What is not best is not doing anything at all.

Ninety per cent of people over 50 would choose care in their own home (Populus). This is the biggest clue over what we must take account of whatever the solution is. Otherwise it will not work.

We need to ensure people with care and support needs can remain independent at home.

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We need to relieve pressure on the NHS by effective use of homecare.

We need to make it easier for people who are willing or able to find their own care and support.

We need to stabilise the state-funded social care market.

We need to expand the care workforce and increase the recognition of homecare workers.

We need to ensure that the public are protected through consistent regulation.  

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These are not impossible outcomes to achieve — if genuinely thought through. The UK Home Care Association thinks the same. I belong to that. I also own a local home care company. I do have a personal view. But ultimately I don’t really care who tackles these issues or indeed how. The job needs doing and doing well. I suspect other Rotherham folk think the same. ‘Can we get on with it please?’ …Now where did I hear that before?

David Coldrick, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, Rotherham

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