CROYDON COMMENTARY: The council’s Social Services department recently paid £1,360 to a private healthcare provider, operated by a large charity, so that IAN BONE, pictured right, could stay in a home while his partner had some respite time. This is his harrowing account of his time in their care
I’ve just spent 10 days in respite care so my partner Jane can get a break to go on holiday with her daughter and grandson. I am 75. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 15 years ago.
Believe me, it’s 24/7 care looking after person with advanced Parkinson’s Disease like me.
The respite care saw me getting to stay in a local residential care centre – arranged by Social Services in Croydon accommodating residents over 65. At the time, there were three residents with Parkinson’s staying there.
I can sum up my stay thus…
Many, if not most, care staff have little knowledge of Parkinson’s Disease symptoms and many consider symptoms like “freezing” a matter of determination and effort, rather than illness.
I was pushed and pulled and reproved for lack of effort by the night staff on my first night.
The worst offender concluded for all to hear: “Don’t bother to answer his buzzer again. He’s had enough attention.”
This proved a constant theme. If you buzzed for a staff member you were told you were preventing another older or more ill person from getting seen, and thus the dominant morality was decided.
Another commonplace was to tell all that, “He was walking fine earlier when he thought no one was looking.”
Or, “He can run with a walking stick when he wants to.”
I was also left alone in the shower on one occasion, which goes against their policy.
When I questioned this, I was simply told, “We don’t have enough staff”, leaving me at risk.
Parkinson’s was viewed mainly as a tremor but otherwise widely seen as a matter of willpower.
I would say now, after a few days since my stay for reflection, that I was on several occasions scared.
I reported this to the home’s administrator (who was absent for the latter part of my stay) and the night staff boss, who appeared shocked and blamed agency staff and said they would take action. The situation was improved by the end of my stay.
Does this reflect the treatment of Parkinson’s sufferers throughout the UK?
There is little written about this, so we simply don’t know. What we can say is there is an urgent need across the care sector for working with and understanding Parkinson’s.
There were many good people working at the home, but they’re not the ones who will stay in my memory.
- Ian Bone has been a lifelong activist and campaigner, who founded the Class War anarchist newspaper. He is also the co-founder of the South Norwood Tourist Board
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