It sometimes feels we are to blame for all the ills of the world

Posted on July 8th, by geoff in CT blog. 1 Comment

By guest blogger Leon Smith

The National Health Service is a complex and multi-faceted institution. Of necessity therefore it must attract the very brightest and most capable leaders available. The new chief executive Simon Stevens has made the observation that he would be “disappointed if nursing homes still existed in 50 years time . . .”. “. . . we need to do a better job of keeping the sick out of care homes . . .”

I found this statement somewhat shocking and indeed a little offensive, having worked in the care home sector my entire career. At a stroke, Mr Stevens has invalidated the work of the sector. What could possibly have driven such a cavalier statement?

Does Mr Stevens seriously believe that those living with the most severe symptoms and manifestations of dementia and those suffering from acute illnesses can really be cared for within the confines of their own home? There was of course a time when some people did live in care homes who by today’s standards did not need to do so.

That is not the case today. The majority of people are coming in to homes because there is no alternative. Many come in in crisis circumstances, having struggled to remain in their own home for as long as possible, where eventually home arrangements have broken down and/or where it has simply proved impossible to provide adequate levels of support.

The care home sector continues to provide a badly needed service to many hundreds of thousands of people, without which life would be intolerable and impossible. The utterances of Simon Stevens would appear to ignore this fact. Where exactly is the correlation between wheeling hospital beds occupied by TB sufferers onto open balconies in the freezing cold with the provision of high quality long term care in a purpose-built and loving environment?

One hesitates to use the word “scapegoat” . At times however working in the care sector it does feel a little as if we are to blame for all the ills of the world. One wonders just how familiar Simon Stevens is with the sector and with the excellence in care it is providing.

  •  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 “It sometimes feels we are to blame for all the ills of the world”

  1. Alan Firth says:

    ‘Hear hear’ to Leon Smith’s comments. Simon Stevens (let’s title his statement as ‘Simon says’ from now on) should have to try and look after my mum ‘in the community’ – with the input and support I get from the council and indeed the care agency. Let’s see how long Mr Stevens can stay at home when he is 84 and suffering from dementia. But then again Mr Stevens will have a very nice public sector, final salary pension upon which to fall back on. Unlike my mum who has to get by on 1 hour (3 x 20 minute visits) a day. Not everyone, Mr Stevens, is fortunate to have an index-linked final salary pension, cross subsidised by someone else.

    Let’s all be ‘cared for’ by the NHS (how much do we, the taxpayer, pay for this black hole?) and maybe we might just be lucky and NOT be the next victim of poor care offered by this public service. But of course, getting an apology and being told that systems have been reviewed to put everything right, is ok, isn’t it? When I joined the organisation that still employs me today, some 21 years ago, I was told by the council hierarchy (and indeed the local trade union representatives) that they provided ‘first class , excellent care, in all of their council owned care homes’. When I asked who told them this, the answer was ‘we tell it to ourselves’. The NHS is no different, so why Mr Stevens thinks he is qualified to pass judgement on privately owned care homes, and come to the conclusion that they are today’s pariah of society is beyond me. He should first get his feet walking around some of his own hospital wards that are out there, ‘serving the general public’. I think he will be surprised (may be not) to discover that we still have beds with plastic curtains around them, one toilet serving as many as 32 ‘residents’, 4 people in a room, with one sink between them, as well as maternity wards that have been re-named ‘geriatric units’. Mr Stevens, you need to get out more.

    Quite frankly Mr Stevens needs to wake up and smell the coffee, and see what’s going on in his own enterprise before he passes judgement on what is going on in other people’s; and certainly before passing judgement on an industry which is saving the UK taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, he should look inwardly at what the cost to our nation is of the organisation he represents. But then again I would not expect any other view from a public sector servant, who has not had to generate any wealth at all in this country, just spend it; and of course, when he retires, will receive a nice tax payer subsidised, index linked, final salary pension.

    Mr Stevens – when you reach your ripe old age – you (or maybe your family) might just be thankful for the excellent care that is offered in one of the thousands of care homes that this country still has. So concentrate on putting your own house in order first before passing judgement on others.

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