Relatives & Residents Association

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Parental Responsibilities?

3 February 2017: “One of the things that has struck me is no one ever questions that we look after our children – that is obvious. No one says that is a caring responsibility, it is what we do…some of that logic and some of the way we think about that in terms the volume of numbers that we are seeing coming down the track will have to impinge on the way that we think about caring for our parents. Because it is a responsibility in terms of our life cycle which is similar,”  Thus spoke David Mowat, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Health.

One of the things that has struck me is no one ever questions that we look after our children – that is obvious

That must resonate in interesting ways with many of those we help.

After all, there are something like 6 million plus carers in the UK.  According to Carers UK, 3 million of us provide this unpaid care alongside paid work but they say, “this is getting more difficult.”

Older people needing care often need a great deal of it, particularly since they are living longer.  A huge number of older people cope daily with deteriorating health conditions, increasing dependency and degenerative conditions.

Most families do their best.  Our Helpline regularly hears from relatives, partners and friends, who devote their lives and have sacrificed income and careers to care, selflessly and often, over very many years, for a parent, a partner, a grandparent or a friend.

However, the support services needed to help sustain this caring are disappearing with the cuts in social care and the lack of investment in the NHS.  The Health Select Committee’s Chair, Sarah Wollaston, MP challenged the figures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.  She pointed out that there had been a real terms cut in NHS spending of £3.5 billion, not an increase as Ministers keep saying, and that this was set to get even worse by £6 billion by 2020-21.

a failing system that leaves older people, their families and carers to pick up the pieces

The King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust also reported “a failing system that leaves older people, their families and carers to pick up the pieces”.(September 2106).
What about those needing care without family and friends?  Our 2009 Research Report* showed something like 40,000 people in care homes had no kith or kin or anyone visiting them.  Not everyone has children and not all children are free of other responsibilities.  Indeed, many of the “children” of those going into care homes today are in their 70s and 80s themselves and often, not in good health.
We need to stop the blame game and support carers and those who need care more generously.

*‘Together but alone’, R&RA, 2009


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