Sometimes I think the news is just, like, designed to bring us all down. The charity Leonard Cheshire Disability told us this week that data from 63 local authorities demonstrates a 15% rise in short (15 minutes or less) care visits to elderly and/or disabled people in the last five years, and that in some regions more than 75% of care visits were carried out in less than a quarter of an hour.
God, what did they have to go and tell us that for? We'd never have known about it if they hadn't said. Given that most of these people are housebound, we don't even have to think about them when we see them in the street. Now I'm all reminded of what's likely to happen if I get old, injured or made vulnerable in some other totally depressing way and don't manage to die quickly or be one of the eight and a half people who get a place at that nice home where Diana Athill lives.
But what's with all the moaning, anyway? I thought old people had come through a world war or two? What happened to the blitz spirit? Are we really saying that endemic loneliness, chronic pain, immobility, powerlessness, constant anxiety and creeping despair are worse than bombs falling on London? Chins up, people.
Plus, 15 minutes is loads, even once you've knocked off the time it takes your carer to get in, take off his or her coat, put on the mandated apron and gloves, phone the office to let them know s/he has arrived, look in the book to see what was done last time by a different carer and then do the whole thing in reverse before leaving. That's easily seven minutes left. Eight, if it's summer, the office has voicemail or your carer is willing to cut corners, which all the good ones are.
Think positive. Peter Cook could write a three-minute sketch in three minutes. Even an amateur with arthritis should be able to knock out something semi-decent in eight. Sell the results to the BBC to supplement your income, and buy an extra half-hour of care here and there. Before you know it, you'll be able to get a cup of tea, and your bandages changed.
I used to look after a disabled child, and I know for a fact that you can take someone to the loo in under seven minutes (as long as everyone's left all the equipment in the right place, none of your supplies has run out through some breakdown in communication between you, the GP, the continence service or any of the 306 agencies on whose coordination you depend). And as long as you don't mind him crying out in pain if you move or try to straighten some part of him that doesn't straighten in your enforced haste to get things done. But, hopefully, adults are better at biting their lips.
Remember, you're getting all this for free (apart from any bits that you're paying for). From me, the taxpayer! Even though I'm already in hock to the banks for about £3,500, because of that whole bailout thing. Well, technically they're in hock to me, but somehow it never feels like that.
What's that? Yes, I suppose you were a taxpayer, too: you think you effectively paid for care in advance? I'm not sure I…
Good grief, is that the time? Gotta run. I'll just write TTFN in the book and make you that cuppa next time. Bye.