This week’s episode of Cold Feet has been rocketing along. Only last week Harry was an OAP who was a bit wobbly on his legs, this week he’s incarcerated in a care home and pleading to be finished off (I’m not even going to start commenting on that point suffice to say I had to swap channels for a few minutes!).
Many of us have a fear of nursing homes and being ‘locked up’ in one. Even if you are lucky enough to find and pay for a good one, the mere thought of being denied independence is a scary one.
The writers of Cold Feet have a brief period to set the scene and to pull some drama out of it so we have an old man with two children who have, in his eyes, schemed to put him in a home for their own nefarious purposes. But could this happen?
Speaking as someone who has ‘put’ her Mother in a nursing home, yes it could, but not without a lot of procedures and safeguards being complied with. There are laws to protect all of us – children, adults, even animals. These give rights to shelter, food, health and freedom - freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the right to equal treatment under the law. If those rights are taken away from you then you have the right to seek help.
As you get older you may need some help with daily living and basic health care needs. You may no longer be as quick on your feet or you may be losing your sight/ hearing. You may not like to admit that you need that help but you have the right to decide where you live.
There may be a time when you will need a Nursing Home if there is no-one at home able to care for you. There is also home care – where a team of Nurses can give visits to your home depending on your needs and what you can apply for. So check out all your options before you are forced into any situation that you do not feel comfortable with. Where possible, choose who should make decisions for you when you are unable to do so and make sure that your wishes are as clear as possible. A Lasting Power of Attorney is the perfect vehicle for this.
If a child is ‘putting’ their parent in to a care home, they must have some authority to do so – this may be because they have been appointed as Attorney (in which case it is the decision of the parent to appoint them as such) or it may be because they have been appointed as a Deputy (in which case the court has given them power to act) but that usually means that the Elderly Person is no longer able to make their own decisions – financially or personally. One of the central tenets of The Mental Capacity Act is that a person should be supported to make their own decisions – however unwise – as long as they have the capacity to do so, regardless of whether they have a deputy or attorney appointed to act for them.
If a person’s rights are being abused by their Attorney or Deputy then the Court of Protection will step in to protect and promote the rights of the person who is cognitively impaired (i.e. cannot speak for themselves). If you are concerned about your own rights or those of a loved one you need to find the answers to your questions. Confide in either a great friend, or family member or seek out an advocate who can support you without being personally involved.
Do bear in mind however that anyone putting their parent into a care home will, unless they are not human, have done so with that parent’s best interest at heart – even if you don’t agree with them. We don’t know the full story behind Harry’s children’s decision and probably never will but I can pretty much guarantee it wasn’t taken lightly or without good reason and a lot of soul-searching.