Retroladytyping …

Care is not a lifestyle choice

(Updated 2 days after my original post, due to the Tory party reconsidering – slightly)

I am frustrated and extremely angry.

The cause of this is the Tory Party Manifesto, together with a headline in the Tory Press, i.e.  “You won’t need to sell your home to pay for care.”  Oh yes, you will … eventually, if it’s worth more than £100,000.  £100,000 .  On the face of it, that’s a lot of money to most people.  However, it doesn’t buy much in the way of housing nowadays, does it?  The average 3 bed semi costs more than that.  Actually ANY decent 3 bed semi costs more than that.  They might argue that charges will only be paid on any amount over that value, but how can that be realised without actually selling that home?  .

Additionally, despite that increased ‘allowance’, that charge is also going to be levied for care in that home.  Yep, that 15 minute quick call, which achieves almost nothing, is going to have to be paid for by the recipient and/or their family.   So, as well as being charged for having an illness which necessitates living in a Nursing Home, more able, but still needing care, people will be charged for that care in their own home.  This has all been hidden by the provision that, if a spouse is living in that home, the home will not need to be sold, but a charge will be levied when both have either died or both ‘chosen’ to live in a care home.  That situation is not new – despite those headlines in the Mail last week.

My parents both had dementia, my mother so severely that she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act for 7 months, with my father remaining at home.  Her care then, which was in an NHS hospital based secure  Unit was funded, but my father was unable to get  funded care at home which met his needs, fifteen minutes once a day not being enough, unsurprisingly.  So, he paid for it privately, and reluctantly.  He was lucky.  He could afford it.  He had worked all his life, never claimed benefits and, while I hesitate to use this argument, had  fought in a bloody War for this country.   Now he needed to get something back and it just wasn’t there.

When he eventually needed to go into a Nursing Home, a charge was levied against their home until we could sell it.  It was a very modest home, worth only £135,000, but was well maintained, well loved and  the source of great pride, that they had ‘something to leave behind.’   However, even under the Tories proposals to charge if a house is worth more than £100,000, it would have to have been sold, as it was,  to fund his care, both while in that home and later in the Nursing Home where he ended his days.

He has now died, thankfully never fully understanding how he had been let down by the system.  My mother too has died and was, sadly, too unwell to ever appreciate that her home, and their investment in it,  had been taxed to fund my father’s care, even though, due to the severity of her condition and her family putting up a fight, her care was funded.  A mixed blessing indeed.

My mother, as I said, was severely ill and so her care was funded, after we had argued against the original decision on the grounds that if she was not deserving of full-time funded care,  then how ill did someone need to be before that became the case.   Were we ‘lucky’ that her care was funded?  Clearly not.  No-one would choose to see a loved one  in turns distraught or catatonic and needing 24 hour specialist medical care.  We were, however, grateful in a financial way.  That is wrong.  However, if she had been less ill, the cost of her care which amounted to thousands of pounds during the 2 further years she lived, would have had to come out of the value of their home, which they had saved for, worked hard for, and again, never claimed benefits.  Thankfully (and I am aware of the irony of that word) she never knew.

Is it right that a situation will exist where a person will be increasingly taxed for providing for their children after their death, needing Care or needing to live in a Care Home, albeit disguised under the headlines as generosity because the Tories propose raising the asset limit?  Is it right that the Tory press have headlined that homes “won’t need to be sold”.  Is it right that the implication is that the right of a spouse to remain in that home, so not forcing a sale, is new?  It’s not.  That’s been the case for a long time.  What has changed is that the allowance has gone up, but set against that, a charge will be made for home care, necessitating in all but a few cases where a house is worth less than £100,000, the eventual sale of a family home.

Needing a second home in the form of a Nursing Home is NOT a lifestyle choice.  Dementia and other issues associated with old age are illnesses.  Their treatment should therefore be funded under the National Insurance scheme.  That is what insurance is for.  If the risk increases, as it has with an increasingly elderly population and better diagnosis, the insurance contributions should be increased accordingly.  As with home insurance, if that means subsidising others who need support, then so be it.  That’s democracy and a caring welfare state in action.  From the cradle to the grave, even if that grave is later than it was when the welfare state was first set up.

Owning a second home, and being able to spend time in that second home healthily and independently is, however,  a lifestyle choice to many of those who seek to penalise those who have few such choices.

Update – 2 days later …    I’ve just heard on today’s news that Theresa May has amended her original points. 

It looks like she plans to cap care costs, having taken account of the feelings of the electorate.  Now there’s a thing; nothing to do with realising that the electorate aren’t going to take this lying down and she was in danger of losing votes. 

However she amends her plans though, my point  is the same. Dementia is an illness like any other illness, and the necessary care shouldn’t be paid for up-front.  National Insurance is just that – insurance.  We hope we won’t need it, but we don’t mind paying (even a bit more) to make sure we are covered.  The NHS was set up to be free at the point of delivery and the Tories are gradually moving away from that, thinking we won’t notice.   We will and we already have.  Don’t take us for granted.  You may get a shock.

Again today, I heard a Tory spokesman say that  “People should be content if they inherit £100,000.” Well, yes.  Point taken, except that, at the risk of being accused of generalisation, I wonder how many Tory MPs leave or have inherited £100,000 and been content with that.  My parents had three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  They bought their house (under Mrs Thatcher’s sell-off of council houses scheme – ironically) with the sole aim of having “something to leave you all.”  They took pride in that.

 However, my argument is still, and will remain, that NO up-front charge should be made to people who are in need of healthcare, exactly as it says on the NHS website:

“The NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. When it was launched by the then minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on July 5 1948, it was based on three core principles:

  • that it meet the needs of everyone
  • that it be free at the point of delivery
  • that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay”

 Perhaps the powers that seek to be need to re-read that, in case they feel the need to make further changes.  I hope they do, but somehow I doubt it. 

There are and will continue to be many, many people in the same situation as my parents.  They will be so ill with dementia, which contrary to Tory thinking,  IS an illness, not just a consequence of old-age, that they need full-time care.  Their dreams of leaving something (more than £100,000 which will be ‘allowed’) to their descendants will be destroyed.  These proposals are no more or less than a tax on dementia.  As a friend commented on my FB page today, we MUST stop it.


“Sumer is icumen in …”

No that’s not a misspelling.   It’s from a song written in the 13th Century in, according to Wikipaedia, Wessex medieval English.  Apparently it’s a song which can go on and on and on … for an indeterminate length of time …

This post is born out of a feeling of being all ‘Brexited out’ and wondering if it is permissible to just let things happen around us for a while, instead of endlessly checking up on them to see how they are going.

I’ve chosen the song link, because it’s one that we used to sing at Primary School and it always comes to mind at this time of year.

It’s the first proper post I’ve done for quite a while, apart from a couple of failed attempts and a few which probably weren’t posting, being a litany of whines about my failure to write anything worth opening up the laptop for.  So … what triggered this and why today?

The answer is, in some respects, mundane, boring and unremarkable.  Spring, that’s all.  Today for the first time this year, I took my coffee outside and just observed, listened and absorbed what was happening in our quiet little part of the earth.  Nothing much was apparent – the distant whine of a strimmer, the flapping of washing, the slam of the postman’s van door nearby.  That’s all.  But … it’s spring.

Today, I noticed that there are buds on a shrub which I thought was dead, so stuck into the earth in a corner, mostly because MrP said it ‘might’ do something.      I can’t even remember what type of shrub it is, just that it has survived being torn up to make way for a rockery, seemingly giving up on life.  It was stronger than it looked though.  While we were busy with other things, it was quietly getting on with what it needed to do to show itself, renewed, today.   In a couple of weeks, who knows what it will look like, but it will stay, because, along with me taking my coffee outside for the first time this year, it symbolises spring, hope, strength (having survived being unceremoniously wrenched up and narrowly escaping the garden waste bin) and optimism.

There are enormous changes going on elsewhere at present.  The EU, or our role in it, is being diminished – no scrub that, it’s actually being dumped by us, like I nearly dumped that shrub.  Who knows what will happen, certainly not those who profess to do so.  Uncertainty is the feeling of choice, at least it is for me.  I didn’t want to leave the EU.  I still think the referendum shouldn’t have happened, as we weren’t given an informed analysis of possible consequences.  We still haven’t been and that’s worrying.  Not knowing, due largely,  I feel,  to the mis-mash of media comments and opinions,  is the worst feeling.  I googled “What happens now that article 50 has been signed?”  and the answer seems to be that the BBC anyway, who are supposed to  “inform, educate and entertain” us,   don’t really know, because it’s never happened before.  Fair enough.  So what do we do in the meantime?  Do we worry?

It is reassuring, among all that change, that some things can carry on – on the surface unimportant maybe.  Those few buds on a seemingly dead shrub don’t mean much really.  I know that.  However, to me, in the middle of very worrying times, they show that nature continues to do what it does best, carry on regardless of what is happening.  I don’t remember what that shrub used to look like;  I don’t really remember the days before we joined what was then the Common Market.

Perhaps then I need to do the same as that shrub,  instead of metaphorically digging things up to take a look at how they are doing.  Just sit back, take my coffee outside every now and then, take a deep breath and realise that everything is all right really.  Is that burying my hand in the sand?  Probably, but I’m sick and tired of trying to understand what may or may not happen.  I’m going to sit back and let it all take care of itself for a while, till I decide to take another look.


As I said, this is my first proper post for a while.  I’m going to post it now, without repeatedly amending it and see what happens.  Please be gentle with me.  I may blossom forth at some future point.


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Should this have happened?

EuropeThe Referendum, that is …

For what it’s worth, after a few days of feeling totally confused, shell-shocked and angry – my thoughts on the Referendum:

We pay our MPs to know as much as possible about issues, then vote in Parliament, according to what they think is best, once they know the facts. I am angry because we lay people should never have been put in this position. Of course we can have opinions, even very strong opinions, but it’s like being asked to make a decision about our medical treatment. We can find out as much as we can, make an informed and educated choice, based on consultation with experts and our own feelings, but we are usually fairly content to trust in the expertise of clinicians. The difference in that case is that, hopefully, those experts do not deliberately withold information or lie (apparently now a synonym for “extrapolate” – having just seen Ian Duncan Smith’s defence of the false promise of £350m for the NHS).

The whole system of Parliament needs examining. It’s totally ridiculous, for example, that someone can be in charge of Health today, then Education tomorrow – a decision which seems to be based on who is in favour with the Prime Minister. Surely that means decisions are made which will further their careers, rather than what they think is best for the electorate. Arguably it’s not their fault; they work within a system which actively encourages self-interest.

We need MPs who know what they are talking about, give us the information we need, even if we disagree with them, but the ultimate decision should be able to be safely left to them. Is it naive to hope for a little bit of honour and integrity?

We are now in a complete and utter mess, dominated by strong personalities who can’t be trusted to sort it out, because they are more interested in their own image, than doing the best for the country. Both our major parties are in disarray, unsurprisingly and I am very worried for the future. The door is wide open for those who can appeal to the insecurity being felt by the electorate, irrespective of their extreme and/or populist views.

Representative, well-informed and unbiased democracy – that’s what I want.  Is that a hopeless dream?

dreamAs I was about to post this, a friend made me aware of this article on the Independent website.  At best it’s interesting reading;  at worst it just adds to the muddle and confusion surrounding this issue.–bJhqBql0VZ