As your local MP I have visited many Care Homes in Hastings and Rye.
Recently I visited the superb Old Hastings House in Hastings. The Care Quality Commission has praised Old Hastings House for its kindness, attentive staff and for respecting and involving residents and their families’ in making decisions. One resident commented: “I have been at this home for 15 years, and I bless the day I came here”.
And that is exactly what I have seen each time I have visited for a coffee morning or a lunch club. Thoughtful, proactive, skillful, world-class care where staff treated residents with such warmth as though they were their own parent or grandparent. It’s the kind of job that makes a real difference to an individual’s quality of life if it is done with compassion and kindness.
Dealing with complex and severe medical conditions takes a skill second to none. Developing a bond with someone who may not have long to live takes true courage. Helping a person with intimate tasks demands both respect and understanding. And devoting oneself to the care of others – often with little public recognition – takes dedication and selflessness.
Inspiring though the care at places like Old Hastings House is, we also know there is a broader problem of loneliness that in our busy lives we have completely failed to address as a community. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness statistics, there are around 2,000 people in Hastings and Rye who are chronically lonely.
I want us to rebuild that community resilience and support that helps older people stay independent. Of course there are occasions where it’s necessary for older people to go into care homes and no family should feel condemned for taking that tough decision. But each and every lonely person should have someone who could visit them and offer companionship. Someone who they can share the good things that make life really worth living. My father is 91 this year and I always make time to see him once a week, not just for 15 minutes but for at least a few hours.
If we are to tackle the challenge of an ageing society, we must restore and reinvigorate compassion and the social bond between generations. As children see how their own grandparents are looked after, they develop higher expectations of how they too will be treated when they get old. If we lose this compassion then we are betraying not only a generation of vulnerable older people, but our own values too.
P.S this week the Government has made some great announcements to help older people- the pensioner bond scheme offering competitive rates of up to 4% interest is to be extended for a further three months. More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-hugely-popular-pensioner-bonds Secondly, changes to the private rental sector regulations will help households to keep warm and keep energy bills down. More info can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/renters-and-landlords-to-enjoy-warmer-properties-and-cheaper-bills