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Year 2005 No. 80, June 17, 2005 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Carers Have a Right to a Livelihood

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Carers Have a Right to a Livelihood

A Traumatic Record of Events

Journalists Struggle against Low Pay Moves to Coventry

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Carers Have a Right to a Livelihood

WDIE Southern Region Correspondent

Carers these days are faced with the prospect of poverty as an added burden to their, in most cases, difficult 24/7 job of caring. Many workers and professionals have to give up jobs and salaries to rely on state benefit because they have no other choice when it comes to caring for a family member. Sometimes this happens out of the blue or because of aging spouses or parents. Often carers are completing a whole day’s work for an employer and come home to do care work.

            It has to be put straightforwardly that carers contribute heavily to society, whilst society has cut back in social programmes so much that the toll on the livelihoods of a large number of human beings is now unacceptable. The social right of people, and everyone probably has to face this situation at some point, is being trumped by monopoly right. The reason is to facilitate the capitalist neo-liberal agenda. This situation has to be faced and should not be allowed to pass. Carers have a right to a livelihood and their dignity and the dignity of those who are being cared for should be upheld. The alternative is for society to provide all assistance in care across the necessary areas that exist in the present arrangements such as social services, the NHS, care homes, nursing homes and care assistance at home. Most of these areas are under-funded, poorly co-ordinated and offer poor service. The reason for this is the general under-funding and lack of interest in linking organisation of social programmes, in order to support the pay-the-rich social system that abdicates responsibility for its citizens and passes over to the medieval notion of fending for oneself. Social justice demands that society must move forward on a civilised basis and develop new arrangements of care and support the lives of those who are affected.

            At present it should be stated categorically that carers and the cared for should have a right to a livelihood and the best opportunities afforded to a decent life and well-being.

            This is the opposite to the policy of New Labour, as is seen through their representative in the Department of Work and Pensions as minister for disability, Anne McGuire. The stance of this minister is that of supporting monopoly right against social right. On the BBC Working Lunch programme broadcast on June 16, she was adamant that the position would remain. While acknowledging the important role that carers carry out it has to be seen that this is mainly because they offload millions of pounds from the treasury and assist the pay-the-rich system. She goes on to say that they happily have no plans to alter the arrangements. McGuire says care allowances are “not a substitute for wages” even though carers perform labour that is essential for the well-being of people. There is no mention that carers, mainly as part of the working class, have contributed and continue to participate in the economy. In these circumstances, it is right that they have a demand on the social product as workers have a claim on the wealth they have created and continue to create and the monopolies should be restricted in any claim they make as owners of the means of the means of production.

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A Traumatic Record of Events

The pressure in today’s society, in which people’s experience is that the social fabric is under great strain, is to dehumanise human beings, both at home and abroad. Social issues are presented as personal problems, and while the government presents social programmes as the target of reform and modernisation the real target is to transform social programmes from being an integral part of a modern socialised state caring for people’s needs into a tool of enrichment of the monopolies, under the signboard of providing “choice”.

            We are posting a traumatic record of events sent in from a reader, providing an example of how the assault on people’s dignity is increasing, or made dependent on their status in society. The question arises, where does responsibility lie? In a sense, everyone in the system has some responsibility. But these are problems of society, despite the fact that those social workers, health workers and others are the ones who seem immediately to blame, despite their best efforts. The dreadful cases of the death of children where social services have been unable to cope are cases in point. The government wants to spread the dehumanisation and anti-consciousness to everywhere it can, particularly Africa, where the problems are by implication down to the fact that it is not organised after the fashion of a New Labour society.

            Such events as the following are a spur to the resolve of all democratic people to do the work necessary to bring about the changes in society which are demanded and call a halt to the fashioning of society into one whose ideological and social culture serves the monopolies.

*****

We arrived at my parents’ on Saturday May 21. My mother was standing on the doorstep in quite a state because my father had had another fall. This time he had banged his head, wrenched his back and did some damage to his arm. Apparently he was slumped against the living room door and my mother could not get in from the hall. She managed to revive him by patting his face so that he could move and she could get into the room. I immediately asked for the doctor to be called when I arrived. The emergency doctor service advised taking him by car to Accident and Emergency at Sandwell Hospital. We took him there and waited for a long time in A&E. I demanded attention for my 80-year-old father. Eventually he got to see a nurse then a doctor. He was wired to a screen, which measured his blood pressure and he was given a finger prick for blood sugar. The nurse looked at his arm. He was sitting in a wheelchair we obtained from A&E. At no time was he asked to get out of it. The doctor saw my father, looked at his head injury and he was concerned about my mother having to look after him when he learned of his Alzheimer’s, Vertigo, rheumatoid arthritis and depression. He said that he was going to get him fast tracked by the social services who would come out that evening to see my mother at home. He was x-rayed at the head but nowhere else. He was then discharged. The nurse told us that social services would arrange an emergency visit that evening. We were not given an ambulance so we had to struggle to get my father back home in my car. The social services never contacted us or came that evening.

             The next day I telephoned social services and they apologised and said they would come within the hour. The woman from social services arrived just over an hour later. She was concerned about his back injury and dialled 999. Meanwhile she organised for respite for my mother who she acknowledged was in great distress and could not cope. She watched my father try to walk. The ambulance arrived with paramedics and they looked at his leg movements and standing and walking. They said that nothing was broken and he would not be taken to hospital. The social worker was concerned that if he was taken to hospital and kept in that he would lose his respite place at Greenhaven residential home in Tipton. The paramedics would not take my father by ambulance to the home and left.

             We again struggled to get my father to the car and took him to the home. The room seemed to be nice with a good bathroom facility. My father was left in the care of the residential home and we were told that it was for a maximum of 72 hours. In this time he was to be fully assessed by social services, the preliminary assessment had been carried out by the emergency social worker. On the morning of Monday 23, we phoned the home and they said that he was eating breakfast and that he had not had much sleep. We learned that three members of staff were needed to take him to the toilet. I returned home.

             On Tuesday, my mother was in a state because she went to see him and saw that he had sustained an injury to the leg and suffered bruising around his body since he had been in the home. They reported that my father had fallen in the home and also was found sitting in the bath with no explanation. My brother arrived on Tuesday evening. The social services seemed to acknowledge that he needed further care and extended his stay until Friday. The home acknowledged that they had no facility to care for my father who needed nursing care. Social services said that they were going to organise for his transfer to a rehabilitation centre because of his incontinence.

            My brother and sister-in-law took my mother to the home and he was in real pain. Again, my father had to be transported to the hospital because the home said that the ambulance would not take him. He was taken again to A&E and eventually they saw the same nurse and another doctor. He was x-rayed and they found that he had broken a bone in his back. They were concerned that if they kept him in hospital that the nursing facility, which had now been agreed that my father would go to by social services, would be lost. He was taken back to the home by ambulance this time. On June 6, the home informed my mother that they could not cope with my father and because he was in agony, not eating or drinking, that he should go back to hospital. They telephoned 999 and he had been admitted. On June 7, my mother was informed by the hospital that they would be keeping my father in for some time. My mother arranged to go to Greenhaven to collect his things and then to visit my father. He was still in pain and refused to speak. The doctor said that there was no chance he would be coming home. He was going to be admitted to a nursing establishment.

            On June 8, my mother visited the hospital. He was severely bruised and blisters were on his legs. He had been switched from basic painkillers to morphine. My mother said that he looked de-hydrated and attempts were made to give him drink. I telephoned the Emergency assessment unit where he was being kept and asked about his hydration. The nurse said that he looked as though he was fine and they had given him some drink and ice cream. They said that it wasn't enough and that they would supplement by intravenous drip. They indicated that he was ok and that they were looking to get nursing home accommodation. On June 9, at mid-day he died.

             My father's death certificate said that he had died of old age, osteoporosis, dementia and sepsis.

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Journalists Struggle against Low Pay Moves to Coventry

Members of the National Union of Journalists at Coventry Newspapers in the Midlands are on strike on Friday, June 17, in the latest round of journalists’ battle against low pay.

            The Coventry Evening Telegraph, Nuneaton Tribune, Bedworth Echo and Hinkley Times are being hit by the walk out. Trinity Mirror, which owns the newspapers, has offered a basic pay deal of 2.75 percent with some extras on minimum bandings. It will leave virtually every journalist in the chapel (workplace branch) earning below the average male wage in Coventry.

            The new minimum rate for qualified journalists on the evening paper will be £18,882 per annum – more than £800 lower than the rate for journalists on daily papers in nearby Birmingham, which are also owned by Trinity Mirror.

            On the weeklies, graduate trainees will start on as little as £11,500 and fully qualified senior journalists with all their professional qualifications and two year’s experience will start on £14,000.

            Last year Trinity Mirror made profits of more than £200 million. Coventry journalists voted 80 percent in favour of a strike in a secret ballot.

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