Saturday 1399 – 5.10.2013
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I’m going to tell you a story about a family; a son and his mother. I’ll call the son David and the mother Cissie. Though these are not their real names, this is a very real story and sadly it’s not an unusual one. I have made some minor changes to protect identity.
David gave up his job in January 2009 to look after his aging mother Cissie ,who was beginning to show signs of dementia and was finding it very difficult to care for herself. He had a few thousand in savings and felt he would be able to survive for several years, if he was frugal. He got carer’s allowance, currently £59.75 per week , yes just £59.75!
David loved his mother very much and wanted to do his best by her because, as he said, she had been a truly wonderful mother; always there for him through thick and thin. He felt caring for her, when she needed him most, was the very least he could do and he did it gladly.
Gradually, oh so very gradually over the next 3 years, Cissie’s dementia got steadily worse and in spring 2012 David asked for help to care for her. She could no longer wash or dress herself very well and naturally it was not appropriate for him to be doing these very personal tasks. He continued to do everything else for her; the washing, cleaning, bed changing, cooking, shopping, supplying much needed emotional support as Cissie was often fearful.
Over the next year Cissie became doubly incontinent, was wearing incontinence pads and started to get up several times throughout each night, calling for her long dead husband. It became harder for David to distract her and she often became distressed.
Slowly, oh so very slowly, David became more and more exhausted and despite periods of respite ,when Cissie stayed in a residential home, he gradually came to the realisation that he was no longer able to care for her. In June 2013, with the help of Cissie’s Social Worker (me), he found a reasonably good and fairly local residential home and at the age of 86 Cissie moved into permanent care.
David felt relief, tinged with guilt that he couldn’t continue to care for his mother right to the end and worry that someone was now making a profit out of caring for his vulnerable mother.
This should be the end of the story and I’m sure that most of you are thinking he did his very best and shouldn’t feel guilty.
You’d be right, but here’s what happened next.
At the age of 59, and with poor health now himself ,David was living on his own in a 2 bedroom Council House. His savings were all gone, carer’s allowance stopped and he faced the prospect of trying to find work; not easy in the current climate.
David had joint tenancy so thought he would be safe to stay in the house but just after his mother moved into care he was told that his housing benefit would be cut by 14% because he was now deemed to have a spare bedroom. This is what has been referred to as the Bedroom tax; the change bought in by this uncaring government made up of millionaires and past public school boys.
David was pretty much penniless because he was living alone and with little money coming into the house. When there had been 2 of them his mother’s Old Age pension and attendance allowance helped to pay the bills. David quickly accumulated debt because he could no longer afford to pay his rent which, of course, had not changed.
His housing officer advised him to look for a one-bedroom house/flat, except they are as rare as hen’s teeth in this country so the advice was worse than useless. He is stuck now with accumulating debt and feeling very, very depressed and trapped in his situation; wondering when he is going to be prosecuted.
So far he hasn’t been able to find work.
David put his life on hold to care for his mother and should have been applauded for that instead of punished.
I estimate that he saved the government at least £40,000 in care home fees, even after allowing for Cissie’s pension ( this is taken to help pay for care when someone is in a home) and David’s carers allowance as well as the cost of carers in the last months before her admission to a care home. That’s a lot of money.
This is David Cameron’s BIG Society which punishes the poor while the rich get richer. It makes me absolutely sick to my stomach that this government (and the Murdoch press) is creating a “blame the poor” culture, where those on benefits are made to feel guilty if they have a drink or watch sky television. Of course there are scroungers but do they cost the country as much as those who are evading/avoiding paying their fair share of taxes which amounts to many Billions every year.
Every single year !
What has happened to this country which once prided itself on its sense of community spirit?
Are we so easily manipulated and self-centred that we will allow the rich to divide and rule?
Sadly it seems we are.
As ever I welcome your thoughts.
Saturday girl signing off.
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