What is care? Care is taking responsibility for someone in need. Care means being actively involved and assessing those needs; then providing for those needs; paying attention to a person’s changing needs; providing positive support to alleviate those needs; maintaining an interest in the individual and in their needs; ensuring that others know about those needs if they are also involved in providing care.
It shouldn’t make the slightest difference whether someone is an unpaid provider of care or a salaried professional care provider. If you are charged with providing care to someone, then you have a personal responsibility to provide that care. In the same way that a parent has a personal responsibility to provide care to the child they brought into the world, so too must each and every salaried professional working in the world of care in the uk.
Parents are human beings, with failings, and there is no statutory requirement for training and education for potential parents, so perhaps they can be excused for failing sometimes. The same cannot be said for those working in the professional world of care, where there are statutory requirements for the training of staff. There are national minimum standards set which are supposed to be met by the professional world of care. One failure and you should be sent for correction.
So where shall I begin, with my musings on the personal responsibility of care? I’ll concentrate on dementia care, because that just happens to be my own particular interest. At present, almost each and every would-be MP has suddenly remembered that there is a bunch of voters out there who are fed up with the lack of care being shown to the mature sector of our population. These would-be MPs are certainly caring about their own future security by purporting to care about the lack of care available to a large part of the electorate: the generation born into a world at war with itself, who asked for little but gave a lot, and continued to do so throughout their working lives and beyond. That same proud generation is now being dealt a raw hand.
Living well with Dementia: A National Dementia Strategy was published over a year ago now, in February 2009 and dementia was supposedly a national priority from October 2007, and then even more of a priority from that arrival of a five-year plan to transform dementia care – but little seems to have changed, and already we’re more than a year into that five year timespan. Then came the Joint Commissioning Framework for dementia in June 2009, hotly followed by the Implementation Plan in July 2009. All fancy titles, with more or less the same target audience – but 14 months to get this far makes you wonder whether it’s not just another flight of fancy.
“The Department of Health stated in October 2007 that dementia was a national priority and brought forward a widely supported strategy in February 2009 to transform the lives of people with dementia. The action however, has not so far matched the rhetoric in terms of urgency. At the moment this strategy lacks the mechanisms needed to bring about large scale improvements and without these mechanisms it is unlikely that the intended and much needed transformation of services will be delivered within the strategy’s five year timeframe.” (National Audit Office – 14 January 2010)
Where does the personal responsibility of care start and finish? How long should it take to show that you care?