I try not to work on a Sunday, but a visit to an elderly friend in
a local hospital highlights many of the issues we have been trying
to raise and address in our recent campaigns. My suggestion of the
week would be to stop meeting in the boardroom of the hospital in
question to discuss older people’s rights as NHS patients. Why not
start meeting on the wards, so that we can see for ourselves where
the changes actually need to be made? What a novel idea.
A local radio station wants to interview me about age
discrimination. To be fair, it often asks my organisation to talk
about older people’s issues because a large percentage of its
listeners are aged over 50. I launch into my heartfelt,
well-rehearsed views when the interviewer drops the inappropriate
phrase “the elderly” into his next question. Do I let it go? I
couldn’t possibly. I suspect that it may be a bit longer before we
get the next invitation from the station.
A combination of sickness, maternity leave and plain bad luck means
that I don’t seem to have any staff today. I spend two hours as an
information officer, an hour as the advocacy manager, and 45
minutes as the advocacy co-ordinator. In between, I do brief
sessions as the media officer and the receptionist. Talk about
multi-tasking. I arrive home very late and very shattered. I don’t
know what I’ll do with myself when they are all back at
I attend a time management course with a colleague. We are the two
who are most in need in this area. We enthusiastically set our
goals, sort out our priorities and then formulate our plans. The
other attendees seem to be well organised with their time already.
At 4.30pm they all clear off home. My colleague and I – well, we
head back to our office for the last couple of hours.
Attend a focus group on age discrimination. This highlights the
difficulty with focus groups – getting people “focused”. When you
assemble a group of opinionated people and ask them to give their
opinions, they will – but not necessarily on the subjects you are
interested in. After lunch I run a “benefits check” session to
encourage older people to claim the benefits they are entitled to –
£200 discovered in the first hour. That will make a small dent
in the £4bn that goes back to the chancellor in unclaimed
benefits every year.
My working week finishes on a Thursday, because on Fridays I go to
university to do my part-time MSc in social research and ageing.
Today we are doing an exercise about rationing on the basis of age
in the health service. I am all fired up for the debate when the
worst happens. I get drawn into arguing “for” and not “against”.
Over my protests the tutor assures me that it will stretch my mind
to argue the opposite case. It might – but it won’t do my soul any