Thursday, April 23, 2009


Sometimes you open the newspaper and read a story that makes you gasp out loud. You can watch one of those stories here

Now it may be that I have got this all wrong and the right people to care for an elderly woman are the people who run the care home where she claimed to be unhappy, rather then the daughter who appears to have her mother's best interests at heart. I am willing to accept in a world where we get things so skewed that we hear story after story of small children killed or maimed by the people who should care for them most, that such abuse goes on at the other end of the spectrum too. It may well be that Rosalind Figg is a lying scheming woman who manipulates the system to her own advantage, but she came across in that interview as a woman who cares deeply about her mother and who has been treated appallingly.

If the social services have got it wrong, it is outrageous that an 86 year old woman should be taken from the care of a daughter who loves her back to a home which the aforementioned daughter didn't think was offering a good enough standard of care. And even more outrageous that they required police officers and several social workers to do it.

There may well be more then this story than meets the eye of course, but quite frankly having had some small experience of the care my father in law received in a local home which was praised to the heavens by all the "experts" I spoke to, if Rosalind Figg's felt she could make a better fist of looking after her mother then I don't blame her for taking her out of that home. And by what right does the state decide to intervene in a family member making a decision about the best way to care for an elderly relative anyway? Since when is it the state's business? There are plenty of elderly people who have no one to care for them, they should be grateful that Rosalind Figg's was prepared to care for her mother.

I feel extremely strongly about this issue. For the past twelve years Spouse and I have been dealing with issues attendant from having elderly parents. When fil was alive, mil looked after him (this despite her shake and her own infirmities). I defy any state system to invent a care package however good that could provide the loving support she gave him for six years.

Over the past six months, I have been looking after mil in a very loose sense: I provide most of her meals, I pop in her or speak to her daily, I do her shopping, I take her to her appointments, and I do odd bits of tidying up for her to make life easier. And do you know what? Although it is undoubtedly and extra layer of responsibility that I could sometimes do without, I don't mind doing it all because - tada! - I love her, and want to look after her. I also believe that Spouse, bil, sil and I are the people best placed to consider her needs and ensure she is cared for properly. This is WHAT FAMILIES SHOULD DO.

The amount of looking after I do is nowhere near a full time carer's role (though I was somewhat startled to be offered carer support when I organised social services to come and help look after her), and I am sensible of the massive responsibility and onus that would be should it come to that, but it has given me an insight into how demanding such a role would be. And I know anyway, because twenty five years ago I did a stint as a voluntary care worker for an 87 year old lady. It is immensely hard, and wearing and sometimes unrewarding. The carers of this country take a huge strain and get very little thanks for it from the government. And it now appears (and ok this is a one off and possibly extreme case) that on it seems, a whim, the state can decide that nanny really knows best when it comes to looking after our elderly, and that family members are no longer deemed to be fit to do so.

It may well be that we get faced with the choice of putting mil into a home at some point, (I do think, having witnessed people do it, looking after alzheimer's patients is particularly difficult and taxing and would possibly be too difficult to manage with a family as well), but I hope that we don't ever have to go there. I know that not all care homes are terrible places, I know that many people who work in them are dedicated and genuinely care for their patients, but there are still too many places where the care isn't what it should be. And I also know if we did have to put mil in a home and found she was unhappy, Spouse, bil, sil and I simply would not let that happen and would rather have her at home then being uncared for. No one should be obliged to stand by and watch their loved ones being treated badly by a system which is supposed to care for them.

I sincerely hope that Rosalind Figgs is able to prove that she acted in her mother's best interests, and that she can look after her at home, where she will be loved and cared for by the person who surely surely must love her the most. (Unless she turns out to be some kind of mad old person hater, of course...)


Anonymous said...

From the bureaucratic side of the fence...

It looks terrible, and I'd like to say that no Social Services Department worth it's salt would resort to such tactics. But sadly I know that ain't true. And I know how appalling a lot of nursing homes/older people's homes are.

However, it seems a strange one to me. Adult services have less power than children's services in this area. It is much easier to take a child into care than a vulnerable adult. A colleague of mine took three years to remove a woman from an abusive parent because once she turned 18 the law was a lot weaker.And I can't think of many social workers who would put an 87 year old through this, unless they thought there was no option.
Sadly, I know of carers who seem plausible, but abuse their relative either financially or emotionally.(I've met some and they are quite frankly very frightening people. One, who was in a paid capacity did a very public story to the local press about nasty social services. I was in possession of a damning report about her, but couldn't put it in the public domain because our legal department wouldn't let us)

So they may be a bastard authority abusing their powers (& massively contravening good practice in safeguarding).But there may be more to this story than meets the eye.

If the daughter is innocent, I hope she uses every legal challenge available to her to get her mother back. If she ain't, then draconian as these measures are, they may just have kept her mother safe.

Mad Twin (rather unusually sitting on the fence)

Jane Henry said...

I know what you're saying, and you may be right, perhaps she is abusing her mother. But... from everything I've read so far, the mother was taken into a care home after being taken ill, but Rosalind Figgs became concerned about the level of care her mother was receiving; she and her partner applied to take her home (do you REALLY have to do that?), and adapted their home, but were told the adaptations weren't good enough. Maybe this is an excuse because they thought she wasn't a fit person,but otoh, she was taking her mother home every weekend, so presumably if she was that much of a danger to her mother, that wouldn't have been permitted? Still seems a bit draconian to me, to have police arrive with a battering ram. Shame they didn't do that in the Baby P case... Can't help feeling the social services/council have overreacted - the darting eyes of the guy the interviewed from the council suggested some one not convinced by what he was saying to me...
I could be wrong of course, maybe this woman is a monster, but if she isn't, it's appalling.

Rosalind said...

In my defence and hopefully to answer a few questions, I would like to let you know that it has been 10 months now since it was decided that, after all, it was in my mum Betty Figg's best interests to come home and live with me. She eats and sleeps and is content and has greatly improved in her fraility. When she was "allowed out", she had awful infections and sores. Mum went into the home from hospital, where she had broken her hip on the ward. (She was admitted with suspected heart failure etc). We (my sister) and I believed she was going to the home for rehab and respite (as misled by social worker). I couldnt stand by and watch my mother being inadequately cared for, and we had completed the recommendations the SS (aptly named) had made, but mum was paying approx £500 to this private care home. There is more I could say but we are taking legal advice at the moment.

Jane Henry said...

Hi Rosalind, I am really touched you took the time to come on my blog and say all that. Most of all I am THRILLED that you have got your mother back home with you. Having now had more time in the care system, with my own mil having been in hospital a great deal before Christmas and people trying to get her into a home when we and she didn't want that, I have even more sympathy with your position then I did before. I am glad your mum is improving and I salute your fighting spirit. What happens to those who don't have us to fight for them, eh?

Best of luck with the court case.