I watched the TV programme Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes? tonight. It was the best programme of the year. Moving, revealing, raw; at times it was physically painful to watch.
The programme revealed the standard of care in some of our dementia care homes to be little short of inhumane. One man, Ken, spent the night in pain whilst an emergency alarm lay inches out of reach.
Care homes are like this because they are mainly judged by health and safety standards, which inevitably ignore the important things in life like stimulation, inspiration, quality of life.
Meanwhile the very best care homes offer activities to the residents, involving them in the running of the care home. They give people opportunities to live, and in so doing to make meaning in their days. By simply looking at care provision through the eyes of residents, everything changed.
But in most places residents spend their days locked in a single room, staring in a circle at their slippers, waiting to die.
"Please, help us please, we're just stagnant...stagnant" said Ken to Gerry. Where would you send your Mother, your Father?
The truly shocking thing is that the real difference between the best and worst of care was the attitude of the manager. This is a matter of human will. It is a choice. What does all this say about the business of care? asked Gerry Robinson at the end of the programme.
But what does it say about us?