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...)