Skip to content

Author: Judith Cross, Strategic Policy Advisor
Published on 01 May 2014 02:30 PM

321 calls for a nurse and 2 ½ hours later – no one is listening!


As the expected the outrage continues today on various media outlets on the insidious, psychological abuse that was shown last night on the Panorama programme towards older people in care settings.

Yet, we have seen this before and we will continue to see this in the future. This is not new, but yet our reaction seems to have little impact on those who have the responsibility for tackling this. Why is no-one listening?

There should be no hiding place for poor care and we cannot link low pay and conditions to the quality of care. The majority of care workers provide good quality care and as we witnessed last night it was the simple things, the little gestures, that mattered for older people in care settings. Simply taking time to explain to someone what you are about to do, or the simple gesture of engaging and talking to someone made all the difference.

The Dignity Commission is on record as saying that the undignified care of older people does not happen in a vacuum, ‘it is rooted in the discrimination and neglect evident towards older people.’ Maybe now is the time to recognise the link between institutional ageism and the abuse of older people in the care system, such as that which was witnessed in last night’s programme.

We continually talk about dignity but the concept is now so overused it rolls of our tongue too easily. It is time to raise the bar on what dignity actually means otherwise all our futures will be grim. Dignity is multi-faceted and encompasses not just the basics of care, which are so often neglected, but the dignity inherent in treating people as human beings and to enabling them to carry on as the individuals they were before entering a care setting.

Age NI has a vision of what social care should look like, ‘social care that recognises the rights, aspirations and diversity of us all, and is based on the right to live with dignity independence, security and choice.’

At the heart of our vision is a system that enhances wellbeing and independence so that older people can continue to engage socially and maintain self-esteem, dignity and purpose. There was little evidence of this last night for Yvonne as she called for assistance simply to use the toilet.

Its now time for a zero tolerance approach – the police, health care providers and regulators, and the criminal justice system must now take this issue seriously and act – it is in all our interests, after all!

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575