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An Ironic look at 20 common phrases on Planet Elderly

1. What they say: Social Care / Domiciliary care

What it means: Failing to help old people in their own homes.

(Providing assistance for older people in their own homes, including help with 'personal care' ie bathing, dressing etc as well as with household tasks.)

2. Care Homes / Residential Care 

Failing to help older people in expensive grey barracks.

('Residential homes' is the overarching title for places where older people live permanently, this includes care homes, retirement homes and nursing homes, each providing different levels of care, at different prices.)  

3. Carers

Low paid workers who are expected to do everything

(Lowly paid and often untrained individuals, without medical qualifications, who provide support to older people in their homes or in residential care. Often  the first, or only, line of help with personal care and general care.)


4. Activities Coordinator Person who patronises older people for a living

(People who are responsible for organising activities in residential homes - including outside trips, visiting performers, games etc. They will often double as carers and frequently have no experience ) 

5. Care home owners/providers

A very rich person

(Increasingly, care homes are in the hands of corporate organisations and private equity vehicles. Although only around 20% are owned in this way, corporate care providers are an increasingly dominant feature of the care 'market'. Social care is seen as less attractive by such money-men because the pickings are less rich.)

6. The Adult Help Desk

Mythical tax payer-funded link to social workers

(Every Local Authority has a dedicated social work team aimed at helping older people in their area - if you can get hold of them. First point of call and guardian of many services for older people.)

7. Social workers

Mythical individuals who, it is claimed, can provide assistance. 

(LA's formerly allocated 'named' social workers, but these are increasingly rare. Social workers are now assigned to help with assessments, placing individuals in care and arranging care and they can recommend 'safeguarding orders'. You may never see the same one twice but they can organise help - if they have the time)

8. Safeguarding Orders

Making care providers do their job properly

(A protective order, which is put in place by a LA, if there are concerns about an individual's care and safety. It means the person is at risk. You do not have to be funded by the LA to ask for an order.  The person can be in their own home or in a residential home. )

9. Power of Attorney

A thief's charter - if you choose the wrong person.

(An important legal agreement by which an individual gives someone the right to act on their behalf in financial and or health matters. Increasingly vital. ) 

10. Best Interests

Forcing older people to do what they may not want to do. 

(If an individual has not got Powers of Attorney or sometimes even if they have, social workers can make decisions about them based on 'best interests'. They will decide what the person's best interests are - whether they can go home, or whether they have to be moved to a care home.) 

11.  Palliative Care

What happens when the medical establishment gives up on you. 

(Someone is given palliative care when there is no 'cure' for their condition. They may be given pain relief and other treatments, such as physiotherapy or even chemotherapy.) 

12. End of Life Care

What happens when they want you to die. You don’t get medical treatment, you may not get food or drink. But you will get lots of pain relief. If that doesn’t kill you, the lack of food and drink will. 

(When someone is believed to be very close to death, a doctor may decide they should no longer be given any treatment other than drugs to make them 'comfortable'.)

13. Products designed for older people

We know you’ve got lots of money, give it to us.

(There is a huge market in assistance products out there, helping with everything from going to the lavatory to pulling on socks. They can be a tremendous help...but can also be a costly waste.)


14. The CQC report was positive

It was terrible, take your parents out now.

(The care regulator, the CQC inspects all care organisations. It rates them in the same way that Ofsted rates schools - Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement and Inadequate. These reports can be useful, but care organisations are inclined to use them in their own way and they can be woefully out of date or misleading.)

15. Person-centred care

Marketing gobbledegook. All care should be person-centred. If they boast about it, it probably means this is just a trope

(Many care organisations talk about person-centred care, suggesting that they consider each person's needs carefully.  It's a buzzword) 

16. Appropriate staffing levels

The least we can get away with

(Care homes will talk about having an appropriate number of staff. They may talk about using a 'tool' to work out how many staff are needed - as if they can't work it out themselves) 

17. All our staff are trained

Only not as carers.

(This is meant to sound as though staff have formal training. They probably do not. Some care homes ask carers to do online training - ie multiple choice quizzes )

18. Red Button Alarms

Expensive and sometimes unnecessary piece of kit with high monthly charges

(Machines linked to your telephone which establish an immediate contact with a helpline call centre) 

19. Sheltered accommodation

You may just get away with not going into a care home but it's no hotel.

(Homes specially designed for older people often with 24-hour warden assistance, but with your own front door.) 

20. Extra Care

Luxurious grey ghettos with potentially massive fees.

(Exclusive and desirable homes for the older market, often boasting swimming pools and five star accommodation and nursing facilities)


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