Category Archives: Campaigning

Calling on the Government to protect older people’s human rights

Age UK handing in a petition to the Department of HealthYesterday morning, Age UK handed its petition into the Department of Health, calling on the Government to close a loophole that means some older people receiving care are not directly covered by the Human Rights Act because of the way their care is arranged and paid for.

It’s an absurd situation. Two people living in the same care home could have different rights and protections because of this loophole. That means that when abuse and neglect takes place, some people have fewer options for redress. We think this is wrong.

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Checking Reading’s temperature…

A thermostat

Age UK is distributing free room thermometers to older people in Reading this winter

Shockingly, Reading had the highest rate of excess winter deaths amongst those aged 65 and over between 2007 and 2010 – that’s equivalent to an average of 109 deaths per year.

With this in mind, Age UK is running a thermometer pilot project across Reading from December 2013 until the end of March 2014. We are enlisting the help of Gas Safety Engineers and health professionals (occupational therapists and intermediate care workers) who frequently visit older people in their own homes.

They are offering two free room thermometers to older people, along with advice on what to do to stay warm and well at home this winter. The aim of the pilot is to help raise awareness of the negative impact that the cold has on older people’s health and help make a positive difference to the 17,900 older people (aged 65 and over) who live in Reading. Continue reading

Save Clause 48

ID201148 Care Home A5 -6946

Imagine two people who live next to each other in a care home – one pays for their own care, the other’s is arranged by their council. Did you know that only one of these people has the full protection of the law from abuse and neglect?

It seems absurd but a loophole in human rights law means this is true. Currently, only those who have their residential care arranged by a public body are directly covered by the Human Rights Act. Anyone who pays for their own residential care or receives care in their own home has fewer rights and protections. Age UK thinks this is wrong.

One of the most exciting things that happened when the House of Lords debated the Care Bill was an amendment that sought to close this loophole. It was voting through, defeating the Government. This amendment became Clause 48 of the Care Bill, giving equal protection to everyone receiving care under human rights law. Continue reading

A Lesson from Siberia

Portrait of a old woman in winter

In 1993, two friends and colleagues of mine alighted from an internal flight in the heart of Siberia. The light was failing and the temperature plummeted as they wound their way from the landing strip into an endless forest. They were lost. Eventually, coming upon a wooden settlement, they found shelter with the village teacher, the only English speaker for many, many miles.

Professor Bill Keatinge later confided in me that he had learned two lessons from this incident. One was to learn Russian (which he later did, with some panache). The second was to dress like the Russians. Because Yakutsk, the city which they had come to visit, is the coldest city in the world. During their trip, the temperature fell to a mere -26C. The lowest winter temperatures reach -60.

And what, may we ask, was the attraction of this cold Siberian city? Ironically, the inhospitable, intractable, bone gnawing cold was the motivation for their journey. They were part of the Eurowinter Group, a collection of Europe’s finest scientists, whose mission was to unravel the complicated story of winter deaths in Europe. Until that time, no-one had a convincing explanation (scientists call this a ‘model’) of the pattern of winter deaths in Europe which varied from one country to another. And the prime question was why on earth should the British Isles, with its temperate maritime climate, be the villain of the piece, with many more ‘excess winter deaths’ than its colder European neighbours? Continue reading