Christina Patterson on her experience in hospital:
I soon found out that I was wrong, but I did, as I was lying there, listening to the groans of the other patients, which made the ward sometimes seem a bit like Passchendaele, and thinking that I had never, in my life, felt more alone, wonder, like John Humphrys, how you could see people you knew were in pain, and frightened, and maybe even dying, and not want to make things better for them. I wondered how you could know that there were little things you could do, like pouring them a glass of water, or not being cross when they pressed their buzzer, or even smiling, and not do them. I could see how if you had, for example, been forced to join the Lord's Resistance Army, you might end up being cruel to people, because people had been so cruel to you, but I couldn't see how that would happen if you were doing something that you had chosen to do, and were being paid for.Daily Mail columnist, on her experience of her mother’s stay in hospital:
When she was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago she went through a year’s chemotherapy and radiotherapy without complaining once. Her attitude to doctors was that of deep respect; to nurses — her own mother had been one — of appreciation that they must be very busy.Fakecharity director on the way forward:
On that particular evening, I rang her number only to discover she was no longer occupying that bed. I telephoned the ward and was told she’d been moved to another ward. I rang that ward. The male nurse spoke such poor English that I could barely understand him, but his essential message was that I couldn’t speak to her, for reasons I never managed to establish.
In the end, I gave up trying. I was going to visit her the next day anyway.
Except I never did, because in the middle of the night, my mum died.
It's difficult to imagine us allowing any other group of people to suffer this indignity and neglect, yet when it comes to older people it's commonplace; as a society we often fail to value or treat older people equally. History shows fundamentally shifting people's attitudes to overcome discrimination isn't easy – it takes time and concerted effort – but nowhere is this more important than in the NHS where people over 65 make up 60% of all admissions. Only by casting these prejudices aside can we start seeing older people like Mrs H as individuals and respond properly to their needs.Yes, more legislation. That’s the ticket.
Equality legislation outlawing age discrimination – due to come into force in 2012 – will certainly help.
Well, for ensuring your fakecharity has a role to play and jobs to fill, anyway. For the patients, lying in hospital beds, ignored by barely-qualified imported staff, not so much…