What the papers have been saying in the week ending 22.2.20
It is usually good to find ‘Alzheimer’s’ on the front page of the newspaper – it does not happen often – and perhaps most of the hot headlines prove to be red herrings, but Saturday’s headline: ‘Alzheimer’s charity ‘gave £750,000 in NDA Payoffs’ is saddening rather than uplifting https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/21/alzheimers-society-allegedly-paid-out-750000-to-staff
The story is based on the witness of a whistle-blower, substantiated by comments from others who have worked for the society recently. It reports on an organisation where senior staff have been seen to be insensitive to alternative points of view, bullying and vindictive – and paying substantial sums to disgruntled staff who have left the organisation in return to their signing Non-Disclosure-Agreements (gagging Clauses). It would seem that the senior staff concerned have all moved on from the Society to well-paid and responsible positions with other charities. This is not reassuring.
Altogether it has not been a week for the faint hearted: an astonishing plan from government to introduce a points system which will exclude foreign workers who could not qualify for well paid jobs has led to the realisation that this will exclude many of the people who care for older people in care homes and community services. There have been headlines such as Elderly and infirm at risk under plans to cut foreign staff www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20200220/281659667062405 Care system will be on its knees if Downing Street sticks to its plans http://guardian.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx
These are direct hits on older people and the failing economy of care for people who are in need. There are concerns too for other parts of the economy including, transport, tourism and farming.
The vulnerability of people with dementia, especially those from ethnic minority communities, when they are admitted to general hospital wards is emphasised by the report of the care/lack of care received by Khawaja Anwar at The Royal Liverpool Hospital https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/feb/18/royal-liverpool-university-hospital-sorry-dementia-patient-left-urine-faeces The Ombudsman has previously drawn attention to widespread failings- It is troubling that little has changed for the better in nearly a decade https://www.ombudsman.org.uk/sites/default/files/2016-10/Care%20and%20Compassion.pdf
We are threatened with the loss of the BBC: ‘Our public service broadcaster is in the gravest danger’ www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20200217/282144998360168 The current skirmish over free licences for older people falls into perspective with this. In the name of economy and one view of freedom, we are at risk of losing so many strengths which we have taken for granted since the end of the Second World War
In keeping with all this Henry McDonald and Maltha Busby bring to attention: ‘Memories of Aberfan disaster stir coal tip fears.’ https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-guardian/20200220/281797106015877 The story of Aberfan was one of observations made but not reported on because of fear that ‘them upstairs’ would not want to know. The article from McDonald and Busby is about coal tips which are again at risk of moving dangerously because of the sustained heavy rains of recent weeks. Aberfan has become a parable for hazards which become disasters because people know the risks but take no action for fear of criticism by those in power for whom the news does not fit with their wishes.
Marmalade makers continue to bring alternative comfort with letters about the Shaftesbury’s Marmalade Fest March 14th, a suggestion that Marmalade could be used as a sealant in flood defences. An unbeliever points out that Aldi sells marmalade at a price which undercuts home-made versions, clearly someone who needs sympathy and education. There is a hint that beards and their potential for a philosophical bent might be mounting a competition to marmalade, but the arrival of letters from Canada promises an international marmalade extension.
Additional hope comes from Alison Flood’s piece: ‘Bookshop’s offer of depression memoir draws a flood (sic!) of requests, The Guardian & The Observer Digital Editions This tells of the independent bookshop which gave free copies of Matt Haigh’s ‘Reasons to stay alive’ to people in desperate need. Other book readers have made donations to make this possible – a phenomenon which has also been taken up by Blackwell’s. That so many people feel the need of help with depression is a worry – but the generosity of these responses is wonderful.
Keynes comeback: Page 2 of The Guardian Journal 17.2.2020 muses on the 83rd anniversary of the publication of ‘The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money’. Implementing ideas outlined there from the 1940s gave us ‘a state-guided investment policy accompanied by a generous social welfare system, progressive taxes, a low interest rate…’ and much more. The thought that these ideas might once again inform the way we are living, is thankfully a cause for optimism.