Emma was delighted to speak at South Tyneside’s Dignity Action Day event on Saturday 30th January 2016. The event was organised by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), supported by South Tyneside Council.
Dignity Action Day is a celebration of those who give and receive good care, it is a reminder to all of us that people using care services should be treated as individuals, given choice and a sense of control in their daily lives.
The event was attended by the Mayor of South Tyneside and a wide range of speakers, including Jan Shortt, Vice President of the NPC, Your Voice Counts (a Gateshead based charity that supports people with learning disabilities to live their lives how they want to) and Margaret Adams, Chair of HealthNet. The day covered a wide range of issues effecting everyone who receives care, from pensions to funding of adult social care.
You can read Emma’s speech to the Conference below;
‘Good morning everyone
It is so good to be here with you all today, for South Tyneside’s Dignity Action Day.
Anyone who has ever had to make the heart wrenching and emotional decision to have a member of their family placed into a residential or care home
Anyone who has a relative or close friend in long stay hospital or even for a short while will know that good care, dignity and respect are the cornerstones of providing your loved ones with the safety and security they once enjoyed in their own home.
I know with my own gran she was one of the strongest and bravest people I ever knew, she once staged a sit in at Jarrow Town Hall to demand my mam and dad and me got a new home. Sometimes people say I am just like her, nothing makes me prouder.
This strong woman as she got older lost the use of her legs, her sight and hearing, as her physical health waned so did her mind, gran had dementia and after many stays in hospital and some painful discussions our family made the decision that she needed to be admitted into a care home.
The first home my gran was in she escaped from and was found shivering alone in a field, the second home she was in she seemed happy enough but even then suffered an injury through carelessness of staff.
If my gran had had carers at home she would’ve probably only had one or two visits a day, where her getting up, dressed, meal times and bed time would be dictated by the times her care company could come and visit, not when was best for her.
Thing is grans story is not unusual, because in an age of increased need and reducing budgets respect, dignity and choice are always the first to go, they cost nothing on the balance sheet in the first place yet they mean so so much.
What people often don’t understand is that if you actually take the time to treat people as individuals, give them choice, control and a sense of purpose then caring for them will actually be easier for them and their carer.
The website celebrating today actually says ‘on Dignity Action Day we ask health and social care workers to promote dignity in their place of work. We also ask members of the public to promote dignity for people in their communities’, shouldn’t these things not be already embedded into all of our caring professions and part of their daily work not just on one day per year.
At present we have a crisis in adult social care and our NHS, local authorities are predicting a 4.3 billion pound gap in adult social care by 2019-2020 and in 2013 NHS England and the Nuffield Trust estimated the NHS funding gap by 2021 could have grown to 30 billion per year.
Residential and Care Home providers and those organisations that provide home care are openly saying they do not know how much longer they will manage, they have realised that there is no profit to be made in good quality care.
Age UK at present are reporting that more than one million people now have at least one unmet social care need.
It must be almost impossible to promote dignity and respect in such an environment, it is this awful Government that are presiding over one of the biggest ever crisis in health and social care and are doing absolutely nothing to save these services, but when you have millionaire Tories making policies who can afford private care and are never going to be like my gran, this is what happens.
All of us are likely to need care in the future or know someone who needs care, if we don’t care for those receiving these services now and try to embed dignity and respect, then we are doing ourselves as well as others a disservice. I am going to get old in Shields and I want to know that when I do there will not only be the right medical care for me but that my personal and social needs we also be met.
But I don’t want this speech to be all doom and gloom, I also want it to be celebration of how important older people are in our society. The times when as a younger person I spent time caring for my Gran or my neighbour Charlie, are some of the best memories I have. My husband, Simon has worked in the care industry on and off for many years and he absolutely loved it, to the point where he would visit some of his clients on his days off, just for a cuppa and a chat, oh and he never called them clients, he referred to them as friends, and that’s what today is all about, giving people the dignity to see them as equals, giving people your respect. Listening to them, putting yourself in their situation and thinking how can I make this person’s day a better one? It doesn’t have to be a great big gesture, it could be helping someone with their shopping, making them a cup of tea, or most importantly giving someone your time.
So for everyone out there who is receiving care or who will in the future I want you to know that I will not squander my time in Parliament and I will fight to make sure we have better services, and I know when I do achieve this my gran will be smiling down on me.
Thank you all so much for having me here today to celebrate all those who give and receive good care.’