Feb 142013

This article  by Jonathan Russell is dedicated to Bill Knight, relentless campaigner and founder and Chair of Grampian Senior Citizens Forum,  a great example to us all. Bill Knight died on February 7th aged 92.

The crisis in care for the elderly is a national one, both at UK and Scottish levels.
Aberdeen has a particularly worrying situation due to high employment and a high cost of living which means that there is a shortage of the low paid staff who do this outstanding and highly undervalued work.

We have an increasing ageing population. Policies like free personal care – though good in themselves – have led to an increased deficiency in other resources to support the elderly.

Aberdeen used to have a home care service which was second to none but what has happened here, as in all parts of the UK, is that the majority of services have been outsourced to private companies who pay less and often provide poor support to their workers.

To have 13 companies providing care is also highly inefficient in covering a city the size of Aberdeen. We have a situation where all these companies are trying to provide services across the city. This is madness. The culture has changed from one of providing services to rushing round to find services of any kind.

The introduction of individual budgets, again aimed at cost cutting, will further complicate this process. We have to ask ourselves: do we value the elderly in our society and the staff who care for them ? Are we willing to increase taxation to pay for services that provide good value not only in terms of money but in terms of care?

We need to create a management culture and direct service culture which is about service and services that are localised rather than spread out around the city. More localised services allow greater flexibility in terms of need and less time would be wasted in the form of travel.

The problem is primarily a national one and has been avoided for much too long. Aberdeen has extra challenges and no doubt local politicians and staff do their best but without increased money and a change in the way we are providing services we are heading for an ever increasing problem with disasters on the way.

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  2 Responses to “Crisis In Care for the Elderly”

  1. In days of yore, grandparents were valued. When they reached an age where they needed assistance, this was provided by their offspring. My late mother cared for my paternal grandmother for some fourteen years until her decline in health required hospitalisation. Nowadays, it seems many can’t wait to get granny, or grandad in to some kind of care, of which they will be required to play minimal part. Yes, the times they are a changing, and not always for the good it seems.

  2. Thank you for dedicating this to my late Uncle Bill. Regret I only learned of his death today through your article. He was a great campaigner and will be fondly remembered.

    Andy Knight
    Lightwater, Surrey.

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