Friday 26 May 2017

It's no country for old people when society makes them feel like a burden

Ending the systematic mistreatment of old people should be as much a priority as stamping out child abuse

‘What if it was children who were being left without food or water, or drugged to keep them docile?’
‘What if it was children who were being left without food or water, or drugged to keep them docile?’

Eilis O'Hanlon

How would we have responded last week had a report revealed that a group of vulnerable children were still not being cared for as ordered, months after the problem was first identified and those responsible directed to put the matter right?

Probably with much more shock and urgency than we did to the results of an unannounced inspection by HIQA of New Ross Community Hospital in Wexford, which found that recommendations made in February to improve the quality of life of elderly patients had still not been acted upon. That report was preceded by another describing how elderly patients at a care facility in Leitrim had been forced to go unwashed for weeks at a time. People were appalled by what they heard, certainly, but there was almost a sense of weary acceptance in the headlines: "Another state-funded home fails to protect elderly residents."

Such horror stories have become a regular feature of national media, ever since RTE ran an expose at the end of last year, using hidden cameras to show residents at the Aras Attracta home in Swinford, Co Mayo being force fed, pinched, hit with keys, kicked, dragged along the floor. Some residents were left in the same chair unattended for up to 11 hours at a time. Staff ignored them when they cried or pleaded for attention.

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