Mum’s dying – and her nurses put me to shameBy Liz Jones
Last updated at 12:59 PM on 10th July 2011
It's a tragedy when anyone becomes old and infirm, but somehow it seems more shocking when that person was once defined by their physicality, their talent, their elegance. In the news last week was the decision by the Supreme Court to deny an overnight carer for Elaine McDonald, who is now 69 but who was once a prima ballerina.
She suffered a stroke just over a decade ago and needs help to get to the bathroom. Her local council, Kensington and Chelsea, advised her to use incontinence pads, thereby saving themselves £22,000 a year.
This was the story that shocked me most over the past few days, a story that should exercise David Cameron as much if not more than the phone-hacking scandal.
As I drive up the M11 to visit her, still in her own home in Saffron Walden in Essex, I thank the Lord she does not live in Kensington and Chelsea. Her decline over the past few days has been swift. She sleeps, mostly, and has barely eaten in a week. The only liquid she has taken on board has been water, syringed into her mouth. But at her small rented house on Friday, it was like being in the middle of Piccadilly Circus.
Aged 92,(my mother) she has spent a decade bedridden, and is suffering from dementia. She is now dying.
My mum comes under the aegis of Uttlesford District Council, which must be peopled by saints. Given that my mum is dying, she is getting palliative care for three months, which is completely, 100 per cent free. The family has in the past had to contribute to the cost of her care, to the tune of about £600 or £700 a month.