By Leon A Smith
February 4, 2011
There have been a number of shock horror stories in the leading national newspapers recently, including The Independent and The Daily Mail, regarding awful conditions and experiences which people have had in care homes. These stories talk of the personal experience of a mother and/or other relative.
It’s somewhat depressing but the only time that care homes for older people and/or the care sector generally are mentioned in the media is in a very negative light – be that an article such as that described above or a Panorama expose and/or some other such revelations in a variety of media.
It’s hardly surprising therefore that the role of carer in a care home or domiciliary setting is one which does not carry high status. This in turn must impact negatively on an individual carer’s feeling of self worth. Why do we belittle the role of carers? Why do they have such low status? Why is more respect not shown for them in the light of the amazing work which they are doing?
Most care homes are not bad. They are providing excellent and loving care for their residents. Certainly at Nightingale that’s what we do! Without our carers we would be nothing. Who else would be looking after our parents and families.
It’s very hard to interest the media in “good news” stories. I recognise of course that this issue does not only apply to the care sector. But with some exceptions - good news is not news and bad news is news!
Why do newspaper editors feel or assume that readers are only interested in reading bad news stories? Why would they not believe that their readership would be enthralled or fascinated to hear of the wonderful work which is being done in care homes the length and breadth of this country. At Nightingale we are providing tender loving care to almost 200 older people whose average age is 90 and 10 of whom are aged over 100. The care that I witness from our fantastic care staff on a daily basis is heartwarming, given with love, devotion, commitment and empathy.
It is unlikely that such a story will ever make the Front Page of a national newspaper because of course it’s not a story and wouldn’t be of any interest or attention.
One would like to think that in a parallel universe that the converse is the case and that only “good news” stories appear in the media – with the very occasional “bad news” story thrown in for good measure. Certainly from my perspective this parallel universe would be more reflective of the reality - it’s just unfortunate that nobody wants to read about it.