I listened to a talk today about the new approach to home care for older people and was disgusted. Home care, which provides assistance in a wide range of services (changing light bulbs etc. to help with shopping), to older people has now been renamed ‘Consumer Directed Care’, which is unacceptable public-service speak. Apparently early research indicates that there has been little improvement in outcomes for those who receive the service but there has been a rise in anxiety, as though this is a surprising result. Will those of dubious ability who come up with these silly ideas  get the message and make way for more enlightened employees to take over your jobs?

I get so cranky at these people who are probably earning quite large salaries having so little understanding of what it is to age, particularly for older women who have spent most of their lives, if not all, as second class citizens. Yet it should be the job of these top people to understand their clients and, importantly, to understand our needs.

How many more times should people employed in the field of ageing have to be told to take older people on board to discuss, and advise, on any changes which affect older people. Last year I spoke about this to a researcher in the field who said she was against it because you might get an older person with a bee in their bonnet. This researcher was unable to realise that you take a team of eligible people on board so that they can give input on a range of issues. Disabled people have managed to persuade those making policy in their area to take them on board but for some reason people working in the ageing field are incapable of taking this step, of even realising how necessary this is for efficient policy. We older people are the only ones who understand what ageing is like and therefore we are the only experts in this field.

If we are to have effective policy in the field of ageing, older people must be involved from beginning to implementation and beyond. Otherwise we risk wasting much of the money spent on ageing and, far more importantly, we miss providing older people with the standard of life, in all its facets, that older people, the people who for years have been the backbone of this country, deserve.

In the meantime lets scrap Consumer Directed Care for something older people want and can relate to, rather than increasing the level of anxiety among what should be a respected group in our community. While we are at it could the top down imposed ‘Advanced Care Planning’ documents, which merely reflect the lack of understanding of older people of those imposing it on older people, and get back to something we can feel we own, such as the old ‘living wills’. Current arrangements seem to be to advise older people that ‘most people tick choose option B’, whatever that means, which insults older people in what should be very personal decision-making.

It’s time for decision makers in the field of ageing to return dignity back to older people or realise their own restricted capabilities and resign. You should enable us to have dignity rather than denying us of it through your own lack of knowledge in the field in which you are paid a substantial salary for being an expert.