Following her mother’s experience of life in a care home, and her own experience of working as a volunteer in the care sector, Catherine Wescott is determined to do what she can to make life better for older people in care homes.
Due to her experience in the care sector, Catherine is now part of the Commission for Dignity in Care. At the end of February 2012 the Commission published a report with recommendations for change in the current status of care provision for older people in hospitals and care homes and is now awaiting response from the public as to these recommendations.
Speaking about her experience Catherine said: “My mother was in a care home for the final five years of her life, during which time she experienced many unsatisfactory situations.
“As I spent a lot of time in my mother’s care home, I realised how pretty awful it can be, left in a room for hours on end with nothing to do, wondering when anyone was going to come to help you to the loo, or just talk or tell you what was happening.
"Our older people are dying of boredom and often fear in some care homes and in my case and with friends, we fought to change the situation where our parents were. It wasn’t easy as there was intimidation from some staff, but you have to be strong and persevere.
"Unfortunately, due to poor staffing and the low profile of care work in this country, the quality of care can sometimes be well below acceptable – whilst at the same time there are staff who are angels. It is not fair to tar everyone with the same brush, but I do feel that we must all take responsibility for any older people we know who may be alone in care homes, to befriend them and just make sure that they are getting what they need and are not being neglected.
"Loneliness is the poverty of the West and maybe the time has come for us all to step forward and be responsible for those who have no-one.”
Catherine and friends are in the process of setting up a charity to recruit, train and support volunteers to act as befrienders for care home residents. If you feel you may be interested, call phone: 077330-68680 (evenings only).