Jewishly, how were the Games for you?

By Leon A Smith
August 17, 2012

On Wednesday night HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was taken to hospital suffering from a bladder infection. How extremely unfortunate and unpleasant for His Royal Highness particularly following on from a similar infection immediately after “Jubilee duties”.

Prince Philip is indeed a remarkable man. He has incredible energy, stoicism and enthusiasm for everything which he does. Indeed, he’s a inspirational figure and a wonderful advertisement for old age. One may even go so far as to say that there’s an element of luck and good fortune that he’s able to remain so active right into his tenth decade.

It was interesting to hear on yesterday’s radio news various specialists being interviewed to get the exact details of what a “bladder infection” is, what are the symptoms, how long do such infections last, and what are the treatments available.

Sadly such unfortunate infections and a massive plethora of other inflections, illnesses, disabilities, conditions and diseases are all too common amongst older people.

It’s quite true that society has benefited from increased longevity but to many that longevity is only of value when accompanied by corresponding quality of life. Ill health is of course a major detractor from quality of life amongst many older people. Care homes such as my own do an excellent job caring for people – protecting them, offering TLC and making their lives interesting and meaningful. Yet there are times when illness means a referral to a hospital as either an out patient or as an in patient – the latter often in emergency circumstances.

There are elements of the National Health Service of which we should be truly proud and indeed even shout about at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

But there are other elements, sadly, which are less attractive and which foster a much lower level of respect. I refer particularly to the whole process of admissions to hospital through A&E. How often do we hear of older people being left to sit in A&E departments for 5-6 hours with only the very basic triage before they are actually seen by a consultant or admitted to a ward. This is not the way we should be treating older people. Accident & Emergency departments are cold clinical places which are often full of a very diverse group of people! These are hardly the ideal circumstances for frail older people – sometimes even with dementia – to be spending hours on end often on their own.

Quite rightly – children are prioritised in A&E and so they should be. Equally so should older people. It is unfair, verging on the inhumane, to leave people to fend for themselves in such circumstances, often going for hours on end without any food or drink. (I recently had such an experience with a family member).

My belief is that older people should be fast tracked through A&E wherever possible in order to minimise any further ill effects which they may experience as a consequence.

The connection to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh is perhaps a tenuous one. Suffice to say, we would know that we had “arrived” if all older people were to get the same level of attention and be treated with similar respect as His Royal Highness.

I was pleased to see that the event in memory of the Israeli athletes murdered in Munich passed off successfully last week. The Olympics have now come and gone. There was no minute’s silence but there was an event at Guildhall attended by the Prime Minister. No Israelis won any medals. There were very few Jewish athletes identified by the Jewish Chronicle and kosher food only appeared to be available in a somewhat covert manner. In short, there was nothing very Jewish about the Olympics. There was a communal website and there were elements of communal hospitality offered to visiting athletes and visitors.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone on what the take up on such hospitality might have been- and/or to put it another way, Jewishly, how were the Games for you!?


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