Asking the right questions


Posted on November 21st, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor Geoff Hodgson

I think I was watching ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ when I first heard the barristers’ mantra ‘When in court, never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to”. I’ve heard it many times since Leo McKern rendered it in his world-weary yet tolerant tones, and not always from the mouths or pens of our learned friends, and not always in respect of the theatre of the courtroom.

Those who conduct surveys – and their name is Legion – appear to have adopted the principle as their own. Yet another survey summary appeared in my in-box last week, trumpeting the finding that “80% of respondents say their biggest priority is to stay in their own home”.

We are not given the wording of the question that produced this result, so it cannot be dismissed out of hand, but however the question was put, the answer is hardly a surprise – I imagine the 20% for whom remaining in their own homes was not a priority either live in Scunthorpe or have a good knowledge of what contemporary care homes can offer.

But in general it is pretty meaningless to ask people to choose between a known and an unknown. To ask an elderly person if they would like to live in a care home is to tacitly ask them if they would like to become more frail and more dependent than they already are.

I won’t identify the commissioners of last week’s survey as they are no more guilty than dozens of others who have already asked the same stupid question, other than quoting their promise to help councils “facilitate and pay for care through a combination of technology, support services and transformational change expertise.”

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.




One response to “Asking the right questions”

  1. Spot on as ever. I have never seen the question asked – ‘when you become infirm and can no longer manage the daily tasks of life easily, would you prefer to stay in your own home or move into a care home. – or lines to that effect.
    As you say – the questions are always loaded and in pursuit of the cheap and inhuman agenda and regrettably, the care industry is still victim of the lazy journalism which we will no doubt see on Panorama this evening.


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