Posts Tagged ‘Elderly care’

The price of longevity is degradation of the elderly

October 7, 2012

The care of the elderly passing from family members to institutions is one of the apparently irreversible  developments in all cultures today. It is not just a phenomenon of “Western” civilization but is a trend across the globe. As “joint families” have given way to nuclear families and as couples have both gone out “to work” and as the elderly desire greater independence and as people live longer, the responsibility for the care of the elderly has passed to institutions from ever-more burdened children or relations.

But a model for institutional care – whether by private players or the State – which works without the degradation of the elderly has yet to be found. I suppose the fundamental reasons are that

  1. to die quietly and with some dignity and with as little discomfort as possible is only of value to the dying,
  2. those who are “in care” have limited opportunities to make themselves heard, let alone to complain,
  3. those “in care” are no longer worth very much to the society they live in and are only seen as a cost,
  4. even for the relatives and children of those in institutional care, the elderly are seen primarily as “duties”  and they would rather not complain if the only solution is a responsibility devolving upon themselves, and
  5. for institutions providing care there is always a  financial benefit to not providing care and they get no “extra bonus” when they do provide care.

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Degradation of the elderly in Sweden’s privatised care system

November 11, 2011

The greatest fear I have of getting old is not so much the pain or suffering or sickness or debilitation but the degradation one may have to undergo.

I have always perceived the care of the elderly (and children) in Sweden as being perhaps the most compassionate and advanced in the world – especially the care from the public sector. The best care anywhere in the world is no doubt when it happens – and it does not always happen – within the family environment. In times past it was the care of the elderly within extended family groups, where up to 4 generations lived together, which probably provided the best care possible. But as family groups have become smaller, the wherewithal for the best geriatric care possible has shifted to institutions.

But recent events within the Swedish system where the public sector has been outsourcing geriatric care to private enterprise are not pretty.  In the chase for profit margins the level of degradation being meted out seems to have increased. The equation is no longer “the best care possible at the lowest allowable cost” and it seems instead to have become “not more than the cost absolutely necessary to avoid public complaints”. And in this new equation the level of degradation that the elderly are subjected to carries no weight. And the degradation is of relevance only if it leads to noisy complaints from others.

Something is not quite right and and it only reinforces my equating ageing with degradation.

The case of the private care company Carema has been the subject of a series of investigative articles by Dagens Nyheter and the latest episode of weighing diapers is not only degrading to the elderly patients but also, I think, for those being forced to implement Carema’s profit objectives:

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