Care News Headlines

Pick up and read your daily paper, listen to the radio, tune into the television news, read the internet headlines and what will you read or hear?

Headlines such as:

  • "£1bn 'shortfall' for care services"
  • "Osborne must raise taxes on 'the rich' to close social care gap"
  • "Councils facing 'impending crisis' in funding care"
  • "Home's cash crisis"

These four headlines were found in as many minutes and variations on the theme are repeated daily.

What is the point of publishing such articles and news? Unless you work in the care industry, few people are interested in the subject of care in anything but a perfunctory way until either they themselves or a loved one needs care.

A change of events as an older person ages or a crisis, is the time when the word 'care' takes on meaning.

At that time, the fear of being told daily that the care sector is in crisis increases the risk of people making a wrong decision or getting into the mindset of being grateful for whatever care service or product is on offer.

Whether it is a decision about home care or residential care, because the negative headlines have been absorbed on a regular basis the thought is present that it will be luck as to whether the care offered is compatible with their perceived need. The thought that dozens of companies providing such services are on the verge of collapse may indicate that should care be available it will be extraordinarily expensive. The news that their local council appears to be falling apart and unable to offer any help or advice leads many to the conclusion that the care industry is in chaos.

Such a conclusion leads to increased anxiety and for many people will mean that the first solution offered by either the statutory or independent sectors will be taken gratefully.

This is not the way for anyone to choose an appropriate care service.

How much better if the media gave out information that was directional and positive. The choice of home care services is vast, service provision is flexible, innovative and competitive. (Always a good consumer factor). The choice of residential care/nursing homes and the services they offer also provide similar choices.

There are charitable, statutory and commercial sector organisations with staff that have expert knowledge that they are happy to share, usually at no cost. There are specialist professionals in the world of law, finance, and the wide field of welfare all who know and can pass on their expertise relative to an individual's situation.

After working in the care industry since 1980 I have learnt many things but perhaps the most important of these and advice I have given out more times than I can remember is very simple. It comes from a character long gone, from one of the 'soap stars' who was known for his slogan 'knowledge is power'.

With knowledge people can make the care choices that are right for them. The confidence to ask the questions and seek the answers. Having wide information resources across all relevant factors that go into receiving and paying for care empowers people into a happier process. If a mistake is made or the decision turns out not to be an appropriate one, they can feel confident of their rights and know the routes to take to rectify their situation.

Knowledge enables people to meet the changes in their world with confidence, safe and secure in the knowledge that they helped shape their own future.

A positive media attitude in our present national situation would enable rather than disable their readers. Let's hope for change!

Angela Gifford.

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