A few days ago, many people on Twitter expressed their outrage over the planned £26 charge elderly residents can expect to pay if they fall over at home at need assistance. Tendring District Council decided that on top of the annual amount of £21.60 for a Careline package, they now needed to charge senior citizens a bit more for the privilege of being picked up off the floor when they took a tumble in the hall.
Understandably, people were shocked. Our elderly, those perhaps viewed as no longer propping up the capitalistic system, expected to pay for care that should be a given in a compassionate society. What happened to compassionate conservatism we were promised?
Tendring Council’s rationale? By sending a carer to help the person back up they prevent ambulance services from being wasted. This was viewed as a better option than allowing people to call emergency services when they need help – however they seem to have forgotten that a fall in an older person can be fatal or require emergency treatment.
The understandably distressed elderly person will be metaphorically presented with a chip and pin machine before a helping hand is offered: a fate that may also fall upon our beloved NHS as it is sold off piece by piece to private contractors who inevitably put profits before patients.
Though the council seems to think there is demand for such a service, it does not take into consideration whether people can afford to pay for this additional service. What if a person has many falls, will the cost be higher for repeat tripper-uppers? We could find ourselves in a situation where the elderly in our nation do not call for help. fearing the financial cost of doing so – this cannot be considered acceptable in a civilised society.
An insightful remark at the end of an article in The Mirror encapsulated the vital problem in the unfolding controversy. Paul Honeywood, the councillor responsible for housing says, “Once the funding ended we decided to look into whether we could continue and add this to the overall Careline package and cover the costs.”
As usual, it comes back down to the austerity and the ideological cuts handed out by the hard-fisted Tory government. Rather than support the elderly, those very same citizens that it loves to praise every year on Remembrance Sunday, they would prefer the elderly break a few bones and lie paralysed on their dribble-covered carpets where they can wither away to save some public expenditure.
The fact that our government does this whilst taking our armed forces into another war should give any soldier pause for thought. You may well get the thumbs up right now as you help our establishment get their gluttonous paws on Syria’s oil supply, but once the conflict is over, do not expect to be picked up off the floor.
Do not expect to age gracefully either, supported by the once mighty NHS and looked after with respect and dignity – once you’ve served your purpose, you’re on the scrap heap.