The care and health of the elderly, now Jeremy Hunt's focus for the next year, has received a fair amount of media coverage lately. In among all this, a tweet recently caught my attention. A comment from a 94-year-old lady, tweeted by her son @RoyLilley - 'What's special about older people; we want what you want' - highlights the unfortunate societal view that older people are somehow less worthy of care, attention and time.
If the care of older people had not been allowed to slip in quality, as a result of this rarely spoken but often widely-held view that older people have less to contribute to society and need to just be maintained while they complete their final stages of life, the falls in the standard of care for this demographic would not need to be such a prority for the NHS. The fact that there is now a focus on improving health and care services for older people is to be applauded. But if society's views had not led to elderly care recieving less attention than other services such as diabetes care and hospitals, resulting in them becoming areas of choice, the need to highlight elderly care may not have arisen.
We are all set to live longer, in many cases while managing long-term health conditions, and soon we will all be requiring health services in one way or another. And no doubt, as the lady pointed out, we will want and expect the same care and attention in the future that we recieve now.
As the Care bill moves through parliament, I wonder how we can change society's viewpoint and upgrade the role of those older than us to ensure that the more vulnerable in society are not let down.