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Dancing with the daffodils

A week of sustained high passion, but with the beginnings of consensus and with it a quieter resolve to take action. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian cites ‘the care home tragedy’ as a ‘stain on this government’: 22,000 excess deaths in care homes, NHS given priority, hospitals emptied into care homes – careless of the consequences.

Her suggestion is that we move back towards integrated and nationalised care across the health-social care interface. More beds and all services free of means-testing.

News-night’s in depth study based on experience in a MHA setting, provided powerful – hopefully influential support Newsnight – 03/06/2020

There are informed and impassioned letters commenting on the genesis of the weakness of the care home sector. Conclusions very much in line with Polly Toynbee.

From my experience, the balance we had in the 1970s and early 1980s was good: almost all care homes being provided by the Local Authority (Part 3), staffed by local people who formed a proud group of respected, trained and supported women and men. The NHS provided long-stay beds for the most impaired and disturbed. These residential resources were linked to community services run by the NHS and Local Authority, and included Day Hospitals as well as Day Centres. Perhaps the financial impact of COVID-19 will lead to a return to this simple, effective, not-for-profit model.

Amongst the good news we read of a scheme whereby scout troops are becoming linked to care homes to offer a counter to isolation.

But mostly this story from a care home shows that life in care with dementia can be sustaining and joyous. Barbara is 93 and has been in care for many years. I knew her as a youth club leader and school teacher in the 1950s and 1960s. Here she delivers a poem in celebration of Wordsworth’s 250 anniversary.

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