Editor-At-Large: I wish The Zimmers long life. But I hope I die before I get old - Janet Street-Porter writing in The Independent on Sunday
"And talking of care homes, I once wrote that if I start to go senile, hand me a plastic bag, because I'd rather end it all quickly than spend my last decade watching daytime telly in a room reeking of boiled cabbage and stale urine. Loads of you wrote to agree. And finally our wonderful government has woken up to the fact that voters are the crumblies, the pensioners and the middle-aged, all of whom probably view the prospect of spending any time in a care home as a thoroughly grim prospect to be avoided at all costs. Only this week, 15 elderly residents in a care home in Lancashire owned by Brightcrest Ltd were told to get their stuff together by 2pm THAT SAME DAY and vacate the premises by 8pm because the company had gone bust.
Time and time again, there are stories of homes closing without warning, of appalling standards, of fires and of lifts breaking down, leaving residents marooned on an upper floor for weeks on end. Sensing a vote-grabbing initiative, the Department of Health last week announced it was going to spend £67m refurbishing 7,000 UK care homes. Shall I do the maths for you? That's a paltry £9,571 per home, not even a well-equipped new kitchen, not a new roof, not a new garden, enough for a new telly, a couple of cheap three-piece suites, a few beds and a lick of paint. BIG DEAL.
And four out of 10 old people in hospital are malnourished because the Department of Health can't be arsed to spend enough on nursing auxiliaries to make sure everyone gets help to eat. At present, two nurses and a couple of helpers per 25 people are all that's allocated. So The Zimmers can sing about "Their Generation" but the tragedy is that 3.5 million older people live alone, and it's not a lot of fun singing along to the telly by yourself, hoping that Meals on Wheels doesn't forget you, is it?"