My journey started when I met a friend for coffee; my friend, like me, had spent a lot of time working in the ageing sector. She was telling me a very familiar story about her mum who was nearly 90. Her mum had been admitted to hospital and while there, hadn’t been treated deliberately badly but there had been the usual problems – water jugs not within reach, food left uneaten because she needed help to eat, call bells not answered because staff being overstretched and under resourced. When it came for her to be discharged (which of course involved my friend making lots of calls and filling out forms on her mother’s behalf) there was a care plan which included a hoist to transfer her in and out of bed. Because there was a hoist, it was decided only one carer was needed but when the hoist arrived, it didnt have a sling. My friend contacted social services who said it would take 3 days to send a new sling – or she could come to the depot herself on the other side of the borough and pick one up. So she went and got the hoist but it was obvious that even with the hoist, one carer wasn’t enough and my friend had to help move her mother who was in severe pain. Eventually after a week she went back into hospital.
So far so sadly familiar, and then she said “god knows what she’d have done if I hadn’t been around”
And it hit me; yes what would she have done? and what will it be like for people like me who don’t have any children to help them in the way my friend did for her mum?”