Television review: Me and My Mum

Me and My Mum
Channel 4, 9pm
Monday 27 March


“Our own private tragedy” is how Tony Robinson of TV’s Time Team and Blackadder fame described the way in which he (and we) deals with the sadness, confusion and grief of having a parent in a care home, writes Judy Downey. He revealed the ambivalence and guilt that most people feel faced with putting someone in care.

He discussed his mother’s dementia and showed some of her daily life in a care home. There were also glimpses of other desperations, showing the way we deal with decline and death. He illustrated well how impossible it is to prepare for or accept losing the threads that bind families together: the shared experiences and the characteristics that make people who they are.

He is angry about our system with such low expectations and priorities given to older people. Although he thought his mother’s care home was a good one, he still referred to care homes as being “waiting rooms for death”.

The day of broadcast saw the publication of the damning Commission for Social Care Inspection and Healthcare Commission’s report accusing service providers of ageism and discrimination. Robinson reinforced the need for better treatment of older people as a whole and, indeed, the recently published Wanless report found “very serious shortcomings”.

The challenge for society is to face up to some of the attitudes, dilemmas and questions that this programme revealed.

Judy Downey is chair of the Relatives and Residents Association

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