For every negative story.............


By Leon A Smith
February 9, 2012
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I return this week to something which I have covered previously – that is the serious responsibility which the media must bear (particularly the print media) for the stigmatisation of the care sector for older people. It is far too often that we read, particularly in newspapers, and particularly in certain newspapers, of shock horror stories of poor care in residential and nursing homes. We are all horrified by these stories/reports of harsh or neglectful treatment. Hardly a week goes by without there being some kind of exposé, allegation or report. But is this really a true reflection on the adult care sector? The answer is a resounding “no”.

For every negative story which we read in the Press or see on TV, there will be literally thousands of examples of good compassionate quality care taking place every day throughout the country. Yet one wonders why these every day acts of care and compassion are not worthy of news. What is it in our psyche that we take pleasure in reading the negative but rarely the positive? Many people will say that it’s the negative horror stories which sell newspapers. But is it really? Do people really buy a newspaper because they want to read bad news? I believe not! I personally buy a newspaper because I want to read news – actualité.

One of the things which we all look for in purchasing newspapers or accessing online content or watching documentary TV programmes or the news, is balance. We want to see fair, accurate, moderate, reporting. I therefore believe that it’s not the newspaper buyer that is asking for negative news. It is the judgement of the newspaper proprietors, editors and journalists that this kind of reporting is needed in order to sell newspapers. If they are right, then this is a sad reflection on society. I am not sure whether this is universal or whether it is a particularly British phenomenon? Why would we not be interested in reading about the acts of kindness being performed daily in my care home. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Fred Goodwin story, one thing is for sure it is not the “mob” that has led to the stripping of his Knighthood. It’s the media.

Gaining insight into the tenderness and compassion which exists between the young and the old, between people of different cultures, between people of different religions and people from different socio-economic backgrounds is indeed a heartwarming experience. I am moved on a daily basis to see the kindness which our staff here at Nightingale give to our residents and I am sure that the same is replicated in other care homes throughout the land.

Can an editor really say that stories of such sensitivity do not sell newspapers? This compassion is a quality that we want to read about. I wander through our new wing seeing true person centred care being given – a carer holding hands with a 95 year old lady who has dementia and another carer giving a manicure, another singing with residents, some cooking, another painting, or just talking.

There is indeed much wrong in society and in our country. Rioting, corruption, drugs, murders, inefficiency and more. Would it not be uplifting for us to read in the media of some of these acts of human kindness? Would we not all be cheered to read on a regular basis of such actions.

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