Over the last few days politicians of all colours of the rainbow have come out with the phrase ‘in the national interest’. I am still not convinced that they are talking about anything other than their own interest, the longevity of their particular party and their personal role within that party.
Then I remembered a similar phrase from the world of care: ‘in the best interests’, enshrined now in the Mental Capacity Act. Everyone involved in the care of a person without the mental capacity to make a particular decision on their own has a duty to demonstrate that each and every decision they make on behalf of that person is ‘in the best interests’ of the relative, friend, patient or resident in their care. And yet, in my experience of those ‘best interests’ decisions, few decisions made by the professionals were in the best interests of my relative.
With apologies to all those good people working in the care industry (and I know there are many – just that we were not fortunate enough to meet any). The GP failed to care enough. The social worker’s favourite phrase, when asked to solve a problem or even just to answer a question from family, was “I’ll see what I can do” which usually resulted in the most amazing period of inactivity. The local authority failed to do anything at all in the best interests of their tenant, leaving a vulnerable person to live for weeks without central heating, without hot water and even without access to the outside world when the lift broke down. It’s a tall order to expect an 81-year-old to walk down from the 5th floor and then back up again, day after day. The extra-care social housing operated in the best interests of the domiciliary care agency owning the premises and running the service. The mental health team spent more time caring about their own best interests than the best interests of their patients, and made major decisions without even bothering to inform family or to call a best interests case conference. The legal advice they took to enable them to wash away all traces of their dirty dealings is staggering. Their assessment unit couldn’t assess the best interests of a pea, let alone a desperately sick person.
And then, the care home. The dénouement. The final disgrace in the name of care. It’s hard for me to use the words care home now, but neglect home doesn’t sound right, so I’ll just call it a home run in the best interests of Care UK.
I may be suspicious when I hear our almost-elected almost-representatives talk of decisions, deals and pacts all being considered and discussed ‘in the national interest’. But I will be watching, with interest, to see how they manage to overcome their failure to understand the message sent by the electorate. A loud and clear call was sent out for change, perhaps even for a coalition government based on cooperation. In the best interests of the electorate.
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.