Intended for healthcare professionals

Personal Views

The new Victorians: community care in the 1990s

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1738
  1. Jill Chaloner, consultant psychiatrist
  1. BrentwoodEssex

    Just before Christmas 1997 my mother, 88 years old and suffering from Alzheimer's, was admitted to the geriatric ward of her local hospital. She had managed successfully in her own home with brief input four times a day from home care workers, who were subcontracted from a private nursing agency by the local social services.

    After three days on oral antibiotics she was well. The ward sister commented that the social worker seemed to have been waiting for things to break down in order to shift my mother into a unit for the elderly mentally ill. When I telephoned the nursing agency I was told that the social worker was not “happy with the package” but the agency was vague about details.

    The social worker admitted to me that they are trying to cut costs

    Although my mother was now medically fit for discharge, the weeks rolled on due to the social worker's insistence on arranging what was rather mysteriously referred to as an “assessment.” Deprived of all personal belongings, including …

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