My dad and social care

My dad and Oscar

My dad died earlier today.

He had been unwell with lung cancer since Christmas. After a stay in hospital he wanted to stay at home and we arranged for him to have home visits four times a day through the local council. After a few weeks, though, dad fell over a couple of times and ended up back in hospital. By this time, he’d lost his confidence and went downhill pretty quickly.

After much effort and negotiation with a local discharge nurse, we helped him move to a fantastic nursing home where his place was funded by Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funding. We made sure he had all the personal possessions he wanted around him, visited as much as we could, and watched as he got to know the staff and his new surroundings.

Then, over the last few days, the inevitable happened and, after getting a chest infection, he died at around 9am.

My dad – in fact, he’s my granddad (I was adopted in 1985, when I was 5 years old) – was a kind man who did the very best for me. I can’t say that I knew him very well, but I can say that I loved him and that I will miss him. His belief in reading and education – opportunities he didn’t have after leaving school at 14 in 1942 – was a belief he passed onto me and encouraged me to pursue, for which I will be forever grateful.

Over the last few months, we’ve done the very best for my dad. In many ways, we were very lucky in the things we managed to put in place – through haranguing and negotiating and persevering and believing. We came across some pretty depressing attitudes at times, but also met some of the most caring, warm-hearted and compassionate professionals I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.

And so, really, to the point of this post.

I work in social care and my wife will not stop until something is sorted. We were about as well equipped as it’s possible to be when my dad’s health took a turn for the worse, and yet we were essentially lucky that my dad’s last few weeks were as good as they were.

Goodness knows the social care system is far from perfect, as the coverage of the last few weeks will attest. But I believe that it has the potential to provide excellent care and support for everyone, if only they are supported, know how to access it and to have control over the process and the care they receive.

What drives me, the organisation I work for and hundreds of others like us, is ensuring that everyone has the best chance of being as fortunate as my dad was at the time they need it most – not just in social care, but from public services in general.

This is what I’ll work to achieve, in memory of my dad who equipped me to try my best to do this.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

16 thoughts on “My dad and social care”

  1. Oh Richard… So sad to hear that your dad passed away. And – how strange… we were only talking about it the other day, on twitter. However, I’m sure you will continue the good work you are already doing when it comes to promoting care and public services – in whatever form or shape it takes – for everone.
    You’ll make your dad proud – I know you will.
    My thoughts are with you and the family in what must be a terrible time for you all. x

  2. Sorry for your loss. This is a lovely piece and very moving. I’m sure the sentiments are echoed by us all. Peace be with you

  3. Thanks for sharing that. All best wishes and thoughts to you and your family at this time. We have enough in this system that is absolutely worth fighting for.

  4. A very fitting and moving tribute. I lost me Father a few years ago to liver cancer. He was a Director of Social work and worked all his life to improve the opportunities and care for the vulnerable. I can only say that the care he recieved was excellent.
    I greatly admire you for putting your thoughts on paper at what must be a very difficult time. Well done. I think your Dad would be very proud of you.

  5. Rich, so very sorry to read this. I guess we both knew it would happen, for both of us, at some point. As my twitter twin I know that our frustrations, energies, demands and expectations are of a similar ilk. I know that your Dad deserved the best, and I know that you did all you could to get him that. I don’t think anyone should need to fight their way through the system, and I totally and utterly know that we (you, I and a bunch of like minded social care heads) can improve it – we just need to hold our nerve and remember the huge difference individual’s can make.

    Your Dad brought up a son that I know he would have been exceedingly proud of (even if these were not conversations you’d readily have)…how could he not be. This month is in your Dad’s memory, each time I bang my head off my desk (metaphorically), or tut down the phone, or roll my eyes in exasperation at another frustration, I’ll remember your Dad and we’ll keep on keeping on. Much love and hugs xx

  6. This post makes my eyes well up. Yes, you and Jess are well placed to do the negotiating, and to persevere to ensure that your dad received such excellent care – but this was also a stressful time for so many reasons and you both deserve credit for doing so well. This post reaffirms my faith and belief in the NHS, and that the social care system is capable of providing excellent care, support and attention.

    I so admire your determination to ensure everyone has access to the same high levels of care, and I am selfishly very proud to claim you as a friend.

  7. Hi Rich,

    We had a very similar experience when my mother died of cancer last year. The hospital care was worse than terrible – positively dangerous – and a constant battle. Getting her out of there and into a nursing home was also tough and required a lot of leg work but, when we did, the care was unbelievably good during the last two weeks of her life. Like you, we saw the worst and the best of the care system close up and personal. While angry about the worst I also take a lot of encouragement from the best. It shows that it can be done if you have people with the right attitude and sensitivity to the real needs of real people (not patients or users). And, it isn’t just about money – the home we chose was one of the cheapest of the 15 we visited. Being genuine and sensitive and caring doesn’t cost any extra – it’s about how you choose to behave and taking the trouble to make sure that your staff do the same.

    Anyway, keep up the fight for a better system, we are too. And, I hope some of the pain eases soon as well.

    All the best, Gerry

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