“Western culture has developed—or, rather, deteriorated—into an atomised individualism… As we have scattered to our own personal enclaves, as it were, we have left the elderly behind as unproductive, unrewarding problems” – Bishop of Oxford, 14/5/14
On 14th May 2014 the House of Lords debated a question for short debate from Baroness Cumberlege, “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the incidence of elder abuse across the nation.” The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev John Pritchardspoke about the need to focus on schools and civil society to counter recent worrying trends.
On 7th May, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, took part in a division during the ‘ping-pong’ stage of the Government’s Care Bill.
Independent Social Democrat Peer Lord Owen moved Amendments 45E and 45F, which sought to introduce an independent Oversight Panel to advise the Secretary of State on matters relating to health and adult social care.
There were Contents: 165 / Not Contents: 259. Result: Government Win
The Bishop of Coventry voted ‘content’. No bishop voted ‘not content’.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty’s Government why they have discontinued the annual survey of mental health spending.
The Bishop of Leicester asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, between 2011 and 2012 home support services saw a decrease of some 5.5% in expenditure. Can the noble Baroness tell us what impact this is likely to have on the mental well-being of people living with dementia and their carers? How can this impact be monitored if detailed spending figures are not yet available?
Baroness Jolly: Dementia services are delivered jointly with social care. The Government will be working with NHS England through clinical commissioning groups to make sure that the joint strategic needs assessments that are set out in local plans include provision for people living with dementia. My honourable friend in the other place has set up pioneering groups that are looking at integration of services. All that is very high on the agenda.
On January 7th 2014, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds spoke in favour of an amendment to the Government’s Children and Families Bill, during its Report Stage. The amendment, moved by Crossbench Peer Lord Rix, sought to place the duty of social care provision with the responsible local authority. Following assurances from the Minister, Lord Rix withdrew the amendment. The Government amendments on this topic, tabled at Third Reading, were warmly welcomed by Lord Rix and subsequently accepted as part of the Bill.
On 21st October 2013, the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during the Committee Stage of the Children and Families Bill. He raised concern about the wording of an amendment tabled by Lord Lloyd of Berwick on the standard of proof required in cases where children are taken into care, suggesting that the amendment be altered before being re-tabled at a subsequent stage of the Bill. The amendment was withdrawn following the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, at the risk of lowering the tone of this extraordinarily learned exchange, in the church we face a similar issue when trying to discern when someone poses a potential risk but nothing can be proved. It is a difficult line to establish. In the drafting of this amendment, my eye has been caught by the juxtaposition of the words “likely” and “possible”. I wonder whether there is a better way of phrasing it. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, used the word “might” at one point, but interestingly then corrected herself and said “was likely to”. There is a real difference between someone being assessed as “might” be a threat and “is likely to” be a threat. I think that I come down on the side of the noble and learned Baroness. However, it is good to know that the lawyers have only two views in these situations.
If this comes back, I hope that we will be able to look at the phraseology. To deduce that something is “likely” from a certain level of possibility seems to carry a stigma that we should not attach unless we really have to do so.
On 11th July 2013, Lord Patel led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on future models of funding of health and social care in England. The Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, took part in the debate. The Bishop spoke of the need to develop community-based approaches to health and social care and called for a more holistic and whole-life approach to their provision.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Patel, on securing the debate. As we have heard from all speakers so far, there is a strong narrative about how precious the NHS is, how high public expectation remains and the problem of rising costs—it’s own health check has just been referred to.
I want to talk a little about care systems and the models that we might need to develop. Experience on the ground tells us that care systems are very fragmented. As systems such as family stability collapse, many people are isolated and struggle to access care and health services. The current system is very skewed towards the delivery of episodic interventions around particular crises. We need to look below that. We need to step back and see how we can create a culture of engagement, support and well-being for people that puts those episodic interventions in a different context and perhaps provides a context in which they would be less necessary and less frequent. I shall raise some questions about models and capacity, not least in relation to the elderly.
I work in the county of Derbyshire. Last year, in the city of Derby, I organised a commission, the Redfern commission, which looked at models of care in our community and how we could contribute alongside the statutory provision. We had a public hearing looking at models of care for the elderly. One of the experts who came as a witness to that public hearing raised three issues. She started by talking about people’s feet and the fact that proper foot care is very important to allow people to continue to have mobility—to be able to shop, do their cleaning and have social intercourse. Very simple things that require microengagement make a huge difference to people’s well-being and health. She also talked about the reluctance of doctors to diagnose depression in elderly patients who suffer a lot of loss. She said that something like 2 million elderly people are diagnosed with clinical depression, but there are probably far more, and it is hard for them to get treatment or even support on the ground. She also raised the lack of provision of advice for elderly people about sexual health. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby calls for development of community-led health and social care provision”