Linda Colling: Sunderland elderly at risk

Sunderland elderly are at risk
Sunderland elderly are at risk
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IT’S awful the prospect of getting old. And terrifying to think that you could end up being abused and neglected in your own home, even robbed blind by carers, as thousands of elderly people are today.

Treated so appallingly, some have been left “wanting to die” as revealed in a landmark report this week.

All this comes at a time when Sunderland City Council has proposals that will spell more misery and financial hardship for pensioners with them paying hundreds of pounds more a week for social care, if the £108.70 cap a week is removed.

What a scandal the way our society treats the elderly. They are not revered as in other cultures, but seen as disposable, ignored, invisible.

Findings by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has lifted the lid on the shocking and shameful treatment of frail and vulnerable people who routinely suffer physical and mental abuse at the hands of underpaid, overstretched carers.

What a disgraceful and undignified end for those who are being systematically victimised. Also, if you are unfortunate enough to have dementia, then you are at greater risk of being left to starve.

Home helps are getting away with it because the elderly are too frightened to complain. How damning and dehumanising all this is.

While the emphasis is on saving pennies, it’s all at a terrible price, costing people their basic human rights. Low pay is no defence for treating any old, frail, confused person so shamefully.

It makes us outrageously disgusted, angry and fearful. Yet another report after the recent expose of appalling care standards of old people in hospitals and care homes country wide. These latest revelations must not be allowed to fade into oblivion.

Urgent action is needed to protect and safeguard thousands by overhauling and improving care services.

While there are many wonderful carers there are too many rotten apples. Only this week the Echo reported how Margaret Tumilty conned up to £40,000 from three old people when warden of the Sunderland sheltered housing complex, The Sanderlings in Ryhope.

She now faces a well-deserved jail term. Tumilty, 61, of The Grove, Ashbrooke, dared to try to lessen her callous crime by saying some of the money she stole was spent on her victims.

Her abuse of trust is being repeated day in and day out all over the country. These findings are no surprise to me with a care system that is struggling to cope at the expense of the elderly, who are stripped of their dignity and going wanting for the care and support they need and deserve.

It is one of the great scandals of our age, born of our total disregard for older people.

Alan Patchett, boss of Sunderland Age UK told me: “Treating older people as if they are past their sell-by date and ignored is absolutely disgraceful.

“As a country we need to wake up to this and stop writing people off some times when they might be as young as 50, lose their job and get thrown on the scrapheap.”

Just as disgraceful are the city council’s proposals for removing the capping in social care which would mean if you have savings of £23,250 you will have to pay for your care which is capped at £108.70 a week, but will alarmingly rise to as much as £407 a week. Once again the prudent penalised.

It’s unfair and in this consultation period, everyone who thinks so too should be telling the council so, contacting their local councillor and making their views known.

The bottom line is if this goes ahead, some will go without the care they need because they will say they can’t afford it. And in the long-term their health will suffer, resulting in a bigger burden and costing the NHS more in radical interventions.

The reality is there are some really needy people who will be even more vulnerable without the help and support they need. And that’s all down to money.

Alan is totally opposed to the proposals knowing they will strip people of their quality of life and make it harder for them financially.

“It’s totally unfair. And those people who have saved, got a pension and made provision for their old age are going to be punished,” said Alan.

He added: “ The council is saying they are looking at this as a fairness, but I think it is grossly unfair. And their system would hit 30 to 40 per cent of people.

“It will affect their quality of life and having a few pounds to go out and meet friends and having those little bit extras in life that make life worth living.”

We all want to live out our days in our own homes, but at what cost?