Your comments on the Fighting for care programme.
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Like most of your viewers I found myself very angry having watched your programme. My mum has a rare form of lewy body dementia. In the space of three months my mum was like the participents of your programme. After six months she was fitted with a peg feeding tube. Furious is not strong enough a word to how Stephen Ladyman made me feel, to suggest you can improve from dementia is the worst thing he could have said to prove his ignorance. If he couldn't be bothered to research this topic the least he could have done was know a bit about what he was drivelling about. Though I must say I am looking forward to the day when, according to the health minister, my mum gets out of bed, walks to the toilet, holds a conversation with us all whilst eating her dinner. The interviewer should apply for the ministers job after the Prime Minister does the decent thing and sacks him.
Joanne McDermott, Rotherham Yorkshire
Well done Panorama for highlighting the terrible stress that carers and AD patients go through 24/7 without proper financial assistance and help at home. Both of my parents have AD and I'm living at home and caring for both of them. Also, well done for showing our Health Minister, Stephen Ladyman in his true colours. Perhaps he would like to come and help me out for a week or so, to get a clearer picture of life.
Jude Elwell, Guildford, Surrey
What a disgrace this programme revealed. How Stephen Ladyman could appear to be so unconcerned and so obviously uncaring about the plight of the people featured on the programme. They certainly deserve to be helped in every way possible to achieve their aims without the bureaucracy of this impossible government It was compelling to watch and certainly gave food for thought. I hope that the NHS gets its act to gether, and of course gets the money to implement the policy in the right way, from the 'so caring' Labour Government.
Mrs Jenny Osman, Uckfield, Sussex, UK
The situation of all of the couples featured in the programme made me extremely sad; particularly in light of recent reports that the NHS is treating people who are not eligible for NHS treatment. I wonder how much this costs the tax-payer, particularly those who have paid tax for many years and who now have very poor quality of life which could be improved if money was available.
Ann, Bromsgrove, England
I thought the programme was excellent and that the couples featured were very brave to let the public into their lives to such a degree. The programme left me both outraged and inspired.
I think that the fact that they have to fight for adequate care for their beloved and desperately ill spouses is an absolute disgrace in our so-called civilised society.
The other thread of the story was their clear love for their spouses and the total dedication shown in their care for them. In our days when the institution of marriage is often derided and divorce is often used as a quick escape when things get even the slightest bit tough, their example was an inspiration to us all. If my wife ever happens to suffer a debilitating illness I hope I will be able to show the same courage as the couples shown and demonstrate the same tenderness in caring for her as they have done.
Will Beckerleg, Southampton, UK
Nye Bevan must be turning in his grave, "cradle to grave", "Free at point of delivery". What has gone wrong with this country? Pay for your own health care , work until you are 70, what next? Why wouldn't a penny or two on income tax solve the problem?
Norman Howell, Birmingham, UK
The programme touched my heart so sadly to see these people who care for their loved ones not only have to deal with stress and emotions of helping to make their loved ones lives as best and comfortable as they can, they are not supported enough. At the end of the day these people are saving the nhs money as they are doing all the caring within their own homes. As for the health minister, well, is he really human. He speaks as if people are some sort of equipment, no compassion is expressed. I am sure I am not alone on this issue.
shelley hull, Brentwood, Essex
Firstly to all the wonderful people in your programme, I salute and admire you for your determination, courage and compassion in caring for your loved ones in their time of need. Secondly, congratulations to Panorama for producing such an emotional and compelling programme.
Throughout, I was absolutely outraged by the incompetence of the professional organisations that process the applications How many other individuals have been affected other than the ones in your program by these bureaucrats? As for the Health Minister, he is an absolute disgrace. I found him grotesque in the extreme. The manner in which he conducted himself was inexcusable and I call on our Prime Minister to show leadership and request his resignation immediately. To ensure this is a balanced view I understand that all treatment costs money, if this means raising taxes by £5 per person per week, then lets do it and sort it out.
SA Hills, Honington, Bury St Edmunds
Please may I say a big Thank You to all your e-mail correspondents who have expressed their kind thoughts and good wishes to those of us who took part in the programme? I'm very grateful to Panorama for exposing the frustrations and incompetencies of the Continuing Care policy in action - or maybe inaction is the more appropriate word? Carers have a real dilemma - do you make a fuss about something you think is unfair, or will it have repercussions on the provision of care for your relative and/or your relationship with NHS professionals? Would it be more prudent to remain silent? But if we remain silent, nothing will change.
So, please, if you have been affected by issues raised in this programme, write to your MP, remembering that the BBC took a viewers' poll just over a year ago on what we thought were the most important Health issues for the Government to tackle. Top of the poll came free care of the elderly. Since then, nothing. Old age, short of being run over by a bus, is in the post for all of us. It is in our own best interests that this is sorted before we get there!
As for Stephen Ladyman, I despair that he is in charge of Continuing Care. The ignorance is breathtaking. Yes, the needs of patients with dementia change - you exchange dealing with behavioural disturbances in the middle phase for problems of loss of mobility or of swallowing in a later stage. But the minister confuses improvement in quality of life (when a good care regime is in place) with recovery from the condition. Good one-to-one care regimes which improve quality of life cost money. Oops, naughty word! A final thank you to the Panorama team who have tackled a complex topic with thoroughness and boldness, but also with real sensitivity. And they have not been in the least intrusive, as camera crews are popularly supposed to be. A final thought - what about the hundreds of people who have nobody to shout for them?
Barbara Pointon, Thriplow UK
Although a Care Home operator specialising in dementia, I think it is quite correct that individuals should be free to choose whether they wish to remain at home or not. Your programme was moving and, I hope as a result, effective to the plight of others seeking funding.
One area that concerned me was the further negative angle given to the Care Home environment, with I believe two references to people deteriorating as a direct result of their admission. In one example this was after a matter of a few days. What was not explained is that this is initially very common due to the very confusing change of surroundings and the trauma of the move. You may say is justification enough to keep people in their own homes, but sadly the arguments over funding, social isolation and many others will never make that a simple decision to make. Thank you for highlighting this important issue.
K G Post, Herne Bay, Kent
A word in defence of the Minister; the needs of people with dementia do change over time. The chief problems of wandering, aggressive or boisterous or challenging behaviour occur first. These may subside as the disease advances and the physical problems come to dominate and the person may become placid and passive. In the later stages the physical problems may become severe. It is thus possible for a person to satisfy the criteria for dementia in the first phases of the illness, then not to satisfy them, and ultimately to satisfy the criteria relating to physical disability. The person has not got better in the normal sense of the word, the needs though have changed. If dementia "recovers" as in the Ernest Saunders case then the initial diagnosis is thrown into doubt.
Tony Luxton, King's Lynn, Norfolk, United Kingdom
Myself and Husband watched the well documented Continuing Care scheme last night (Sunday). We felt like crying seeing these devoted carers struggling to look after their loved ones at home with very little help.
Margaret Fagan, Cumbernauld, Glasgow
I was really upset to see and hear what this Government is not doing to help folk who really need it and to have to fight every step of the way is horrendous. The Health Minister should really be sacked and someone far more caring and understanding should get the job, they should remember they too will get old one day, how would they like it if their loved ones had to battle like that for help. Shame on them.
Gwen Holmes, Edinburgh, Scotland
I watched your programme and I was mortified i looked after my grandmother for a number of years when she had Alzheimer's. She had to go into residential care eventually as she needed round the clock care and I had a young family. I found it hard to cope with and I was quite young. the carers in the programme should be awarded continuing care without having to fight. We should care better for the older generation without fighting other countries needless wars.
Tracey Jones, Wakefield, Yorks
Can I say what a wonderful programme you did fighting for care your interviewer was wonderful caring but able to get the point over well. Are you able to pass on to the couples what a wonderful support this has been to others I have just given up work to care for my husband who has Alzheimer's, but of course here in Scotland we have free personal care my heart goes out to all those very brave people allowing us into see how they live under this awful illness please if possible pass on our thanks to them and all your team.
Elizabeth Hunter, Scotland
The programme was excellent. The care system in this country, of which Continuing Care is just one part, is chronically under resourced because it's not yet a big enough issue with voters. My mother suffers with dementia and now she's in this system it's like she's been thrown to the wolves. All I can say is, if you suffer from this type of condition, God help you if you don't have any family to look after your interests because no one else in the NHS, Social Services or the care home sector truly does. Like child care 20 years ago, we need a complete rethink. And, as for Mr Ladyman, what can you say except he's in the wrong job.
S Gaines, Liverpool, Merseyside
I watched the Panorama programme last night in disbelief, anger and sadness. I was horrified to see the man who had the stroke and yet still the authorities dragged their heels in giving him the financial help and support he clearly desperately needed. What has it come to when society can treat its people in this way? And how can we justify a war no-one wanted, that has cost hundreds of lives and spend billions on it and yet not help people in this situation die with dignity?
My father has Parkinson's and is cared for by my mother. While he can just about eat without help, he needs help to dress, wash and walk and yet my mother qualifies for no financial support or any other social service support. They even have to pay out of their own pension for an osteopath and chiropodist to come out and visit him. I worry for my mother as my father's condition will only get worse and she is practically on her knees with exhaustion and has no life of her own. They and the people highlighted in the Panorama programme, have spent their whole lives paying their taxes and yet this is how they get treated.
Ultimately society is judged on how it treats its citizens - we clearly, and sadly, have a long way to go.
Kate Gould, London UK
As a 25 year old who has recently moved in with my boyfriend, I am looking forward to starting the beginning of the rest of my life with my chosen partner. From watching last night's programme, I can only hope that I fulfil the true meaning of love and dedication as the partners of these people that are so unfortunate to have this condition have done. I was left in true admiration of the carers after this programme and am so glad that we as the public were given the opportunity to see what they have to do on a daily basis without the help they clearly deserve. Also, not one of them complained about it. As for Stephen Ladyman, I hope this doesn't happen to one of his loved ones for their sake, as I imagine that they would be sent straight off to a home.
Caroline Tompkins, Wandsworth, London
Sunday's Panorama was vivid, compelling and damning. It showed people caught in bureaucratic confusion, trapped in impossibly arduous (and expensive) caring situations, yet still striving willingly but unaided to offer the levels of care and support which their partner required. This situation is not unusual. The Health Ombudsman was fiercely critical of the lack of NHS continuing care in her report last year, and has come back this year with equal forthrightness to comment on the lack of progress.
Yet the Minister talked to Panorama as if everything which could be done was being done. If this is the best that the state can do, it is a national disgrace. As Panorama so rightly demonstrated, there must be a radical and fresh approach to the plight of people with serious care needs. The confusion over who pays for care in what circumstances must be rectified once and for all.
Andrea Lane on behalf of Help the Aged, London
This factual programme investigated so ably by Andy Davies, was very disturbing for me, although fortunately at 81 I am still healthy and active. To see the three couples suffer so much over such lengthy periods, without adequate help makes me feel I would rather face suicide than go through their difficulties. To see the smirking, uncaring face of the Continuing Care Minister, obviously not caring sufficiently about the huge problems in his ministry to take the necessary action, makes me wonder how he can be a Labour MP. Please send a copy of the programme to Tony Blair, so that he can see his Ministers reaction. Perhaps he will be as enraged as me and the thousands of viewers and get something done now, to help the sick and disabled.
Ken Ward, Wickford , Essex
My husband suffers from Lewy Body Dementia and I nearly threw the remote control at the TV at Stephen Ladyman's smug and ignorant remarks on Alzheimer patients recovering. I have battle for six years for the right treatment for my husband and he is fortunate to be receiving NHS continuing care in a hospital situation for the last six months, because I could no longer let him suffer "care in the community", which is almost none existent. I cried for the carers fighting the system spotlighted in your programme. I've been there - it's hell on earth.
Irene Vanner, England
An excellent Panorama tonight. The theme should continue with the disabled as they suffer the same problems in getting help and financial support, as do students should they become ill during their studies. The politicians have no hope, or intention, in my view of making life easier for these people. It is going to take someone with integrity, compassion and the intellectual capability necessary to bring about change to this diabolical state.
Joanne Lockwood, Wiltshire, England
I have just watched your programme in abject horror. My mother is in the early stages of Alzheimer's and myself and my wife are her carers. I was particularly struck by the ministers comments that people with dementia get better. They do not. However, rapid decline can be induced by inappropriate care, clearly illustrated by one of the people in the programme who declined in a care home and recovered a little when brought back home.
By refusing to properly fund the care of elderly people with dementia, the minister is effectively consigning many of those people to a lonely and miserable death and assisting in the destruction of many peoples lives. Perhaps this is because they do not vote. But their children and grandchildren do. Britain is a rich western nation and should make funds available to treat its elderly population with the respect and compassion that they deserve. If the government will not pay for this care now, what will happen when the baby boom generation reaches retirement age and their resources have been used up paying for the care of their parents?
Alan Miller, Bexhill, East Sussex UK
My dad died of Alzheimer's in 1990. Like Freda we knew nothing about care and Mum was caring. It was only at the end when we had to commit him to hospital that we found out from other carers about what we should have had, we weren't told. I'm disabled and it's only because I help in CAB that I've found what I should have - you're never told, you just stumble along.
G Barry, Belfast, N Ireland
I have just watched the Panorama programme in disbelief. Why do these couples have to qualify for continuing care costing around £50,000 a year because they are ill through no fault of their own? When reading in today's paper that it costs the taxpayer between £40,000 and £225,000 to keep some criminals in prison. Surely we need to get our priorities right.
Angela Holmes, Preston, Lancs
I was dismayed and astounded at the processes carers have to go through to get home care for their loved ones. My husband and I are in our mid-to-late fifties and diseases highlighted on Panorama on July 18th could affect one and/or the other of us. I will now make notes for our daughters so they have some idea which road to go down to ensure homecare is available. I will also be writing to my MP with my views. What a sorry state of affairs!
Bev Preston, Market Rasen, England
Shame on a government that can find money for wars and will not fund its peoples health and welfare. No I'm not talking about Saddam, I'm talking about Tony.
Edwin Dinsdale, Dunfermline, Scotland.
I am not affected by Fighting for care, but who knows maybe in the future I will and it made disturbing viewing. What I don't understand is that Gordon Brown has just pledged £400m to developing countries to help eradicate Aids. Now I don't have any problem with that at all, we must assist. But why does he not either match it for his own country or even half the pledge and pledge the other half to the people who have worked all their lives and contributed to the country all their lives. Many thanks for a brilliant programme and a very sensitive reporter
Olive Harrison, Beckton, London
The implication would seem to be that financial pressures have given rise to a tacit policy of prevarication by health care providers at local level which is nodded at by central government.
How do the three cases illustrated in the programme measure up to the wider picture: are records available/ accessible about response times? What proportion of first time applications are successful, if any?
Iain Forbes, Woking Surrey
We watched your programme. It makes us very angry to see people treated this way by officials. As a GP I need to know more about the system. As for Ladyman ,words fail me. His supercilious smile and attitude throughout show no care at all for anyone.
Moving and disturbing, your programme highlighted a frightening lack of humanity in the authorities' dealings with vulnerable people.
As your programme so clearly showed, carers are tired out to the limit anyway, so the process of making them jump through hoops to try to obtain the best for their loved ones is nothing short of cruelty. As for the government health spokesman's comments, I would look forward to seeing his evidence of anyone recovering from Alzheimer's.
Bernadette, Herts and Oxon, UK
I watched your programme and would like to point out that it does come down to money. When are we all going to understand that the government spend our taxes to pay for this care and unless as a society we are more willing to pay more then this is what will happen to some of us as we get older. I feel that the BBC should start getting a culture through the programmes making people understand why they pay tax. You have made a big issue about fuel tax but do not explain that if it does not come from fuel then money will have to come in some other form of tax. You cant get something for nothing if we can go and binge drink, take expensive holidays etc then we should be able to look after our older people. They must be the only antique that loses value with ageing
Raymond Palser, Coulsdon, Surrey
I have just watched the programme re: funding for care and I have cried tears of anger, outrage and disgust throughout. Never have I been so moved by a programme and my heart goes out to all the families facing this impossible situation.
To have your loved ones receive the care they deserve is a fundamental right for everyone - I cannot understand the decision making process being so inaccurate and taking so long by so called professionals and all the while, these families have to struggle... its beyond words. Thank you for bringing this issue to the foreground, I believe the programme will make a difference.
Jenni Jones, Bedford
Once again I am incensed by the assumption that all care is given free in Scotland. The so-called Free Care for the Elderly consists of a weekly payment of £210 to cover both nursing and personal care. The rest has to be paid for. My husband has advanced cancer and is in a nursing home. The rest of the fees are means tested and considerable. Please stop telling the population in the rest of the UK that everything is free in Scotland. It is most certainly not in spite of the misleading title.
C Allan, Glasgow
I just wanted to say what a very good bit of journalism. Thought provoking, but makes one consider the amount of daft positions the government requires in the NHS where we pay happily for health care expect those who require it get it. Is it fair to say that those who make the policies will have private health care. I for one would be happy to pay for an elderly person in this country receive the care they deserve. Its good too see the BBC challenge these difficult issues. Please continue, without this good journalism we the public would not know but also you can encourage positive change. For those featured in the programme, my wishes go to them for the courage they have but also to appear on the programme.
Mark Mower, UK
It is an absolute disgrace that families have to suffer this type of hardship, whilst smug politicians and senior health board officials don't even appear to be accepting any responsibility for the heartache and stress caused by their dithering. Surely in this day and age we can provide the service and support which families need whilst they need it and in a responsive dignified manner. Is there any kind of campaign which one can take part in or petition one can sign, or any other action one can take to make sure that this issue remains current and not just the focus of tonight's programme?
Harry Mennie, Stirling Scotland
Stephen Ladyman for his comments tonight should resign. One hopes that his parents will never be in such a situation as to require constant care. Why should those with Alzheimer's or dementia have to prove that they have not get any better. Surely the fact that these diseases are degenerative and incurable should be enough to prove that once constant care has been given it will be needed until the patient dies.
Kenneth Jackson, Carlisle, UK
I have just watched your programme about dementia and was overwhelmed about how some people have to struggle to look after they loved ones. All I can say is that I hope Tony Blair and our Government saw this program and stopped sending billions of pounds to foreign countries and started look after our own country first. It is quite shameful to think of these people (carers and the poorly) who have paid all their lives into their country to have to fight like this to get help.
Carole Colegate-Stone, Putney, London
I am upset and outraged at how people, struggling to cope with looking after loved ones with such an awful disease/illness are made to jump through hoops and spend a tremendous amount of time and energy worrying if they will receive help. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and like all other sufferers of this disease she did not "recover" or get better. The health minister was talking absolute tosh and needs to visit the families who are trying to look after their loved ones to see how disheartening it is to watch them deteriorate, then maybe he won't be so blasé with his ridiculous comment about "I've heard of people getting better" - He has no idea.
I really do hope that the government reviews the whole procedure and makes life for the carers easier not more difficult.
Deborah Stead, Loughborough, Leicestershire
Shocked and horrified by what people have to go through. Just raises my anger because I am currently fighting for help and I do not have a carer nor am I elderly. There is too much buck-passing and it is incorrect that policies are easy to comprehend. I will continue to fight for the sake of my physical health even though the stress is too much to handle.
Ash, Greater London England
What a moving programme. I have never seen such a smarmy uncaring attitude as that portrayed by the health minister. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
William Green, Croydon, England
I've just sat and watched the programme which I found to be very emotional, both my grandparents died with Alzheimer's disease, so I can kind of relate to these people. The programme was done brilliantly and brought the message home to people, what I found offensive was the interview with Stephen Ladyman MP, the health minister. I found him insulting, arrogant and insensitive. I can't believe that he appeared to be grinning through most of the interview, it's disgusting behaviour from someone in his position. He didn't have an ounce of sympathy for any of the couples shown on the programme and I find that incredibly sad.
Hailey Snare, Scunthorpe, UK
I trained as a nurse at a top London hospital some 20 plus years ago and I am so horrified at how the system has become steeped in bureaucracy with little thought to the suffering of the poor elderly people on Panorama tonight. It is shameful and I can only hope that this exposure may draw the attention of the pen-pushers to get their act together and help those who have worked and paid their taxes and contributions all their lives. They deserve better. My pets get better care from the vet!!
Roz Kadir, Richmond, Surrey
After watching your very interesting programme, it was just like having our own lives played out on screen. The experiences you have shown are all to familiar to us, and we have been given the same excuses, lies, threats and worries from the health service on care and funding. The whole process of watching Fiona's father slip into dementia has been hard enough, but to be made so much worse by the poor help and total lack of understanding for the very people who were supposed to help us. At the end of all the trouble we have been told it all boils down to money, money which has been taken from each of us to provide this 'care' which local authorities do not want to use. I hope your programme helps the situation, but I fear that as per usual the politicians will turn a blind eye, and things will remain as bad or worse. Please give best regards to all of the families involved with the making of your programme.
Tim Povey and Fiona Mckenzie, Warmley, Bristol
I cannot believe that a so-called 'health minister' actually stated that people can recover from dementia. It would be instructive for people in England if they were made aware of the Scottish free personal care system which gets over many of the problems highlighted in tonight's excellent Panorama programme
Joyce Cormie, Leven, Fife, Scotland
I am disgusted that the carers have to fight to get what they need. Surely anyone can see that their life is hard enough already without adding more stress in the form of having to battle for necessary services. What is our society coming to?
Lesley Scriven, Croydon Surrey
My heart went out to the dedicated wives and husbands of these afflicted people. It's appalling that they have to fight for care that is essential for the well-being of all parties. It has also made me even more determined to be euthanased if ever I should need such dedicated care from my partner and family. I would hate to be totally dependent on anyone and to be placed in an institution in that condition would be worse than death.
Maureen, London UK
If your are talking about People having a "Dignified" End to their Lives, why do we not have the choice to End it when we have no Quality of Life Remaining. I would not call a Life Being Bedridden and having Everything done for me Dignified, this is Life for the sake of Life, I do agree however that we should receive the best Quality of Care, but at what cost to the Individual?
Leon Kammer, Aberdeen, Scotland
Thank you so much for highlighting this very grave plight of carers and people with dementia. My work is to support Carers and even I find it a huge maze - I find that often the PCT doesn't respond to questions on Continuing Health Care. Perhaps the Health Care professional could run some public workshops to help other professionals within statutory bodies and for carers too. Again thank you. Can you do a follow up programme in say 12/18 months time to see if things have improved?
Kathy Redwood, UK
Money money money that's all they think about. We pay our taxes and NI so we should get all the care we pay for in our old age. It's rubbish them saying they haven't the resources. We pay for it so they should supply it.
Good Programme. It strikes me that the aging population is such a financial burden on the "purse strings" that the government is forcing us towards the public crying out for euthanasia. That way elderly care via the NHS will not be a financial mill stone around the NHS neck.
Andrew Senior, UK
I am incensed at the content of this excellent programme. How could that Health Minister sit there and blandly say that dementia cases "do get better"? I have never heard such utter rubbish in my life! Why is the policy of Continuing Home Care not being funded centrally when it IS Government policy?
Sheila Murray, Ayr, Scotland
I think it is shocking that these families have been put under this stress. The NHS should pay and stop making life difficult for those who have little life left. Money should be secondary to quality of life.
Sharon Stirrat, Stirling, Scotland
I was appalled and disgusted at the fight the respective families had to put up to get essential care for their loved ones. I have been a qualified nurse for over thirty years, and was left ashamed to be apart of a service that treats people in that way.
Alan Williams, Liverpool
It's impressive that the minister could
laugh, smile and grin throughout his
interview. I'm sure he's terribly proud
Ian, Birmingham, England
So the man from the ministry reckons people with dementia get better, I wonder who's got dementia. I have worked for many many years with people with dementia of various types, and not seen a miracle yet. Perhaps this country shouldn't have closed down the big Victorian asylums with such gusto. Demented patients got wonderful care there as a rule, certainly better than a distraught and struggling relative can give.
I cannot believe some of the comments made by to inept and ill informed Health Minister on this programme. I watched my mother die due to dementia one year ago. His ignorance is astounding. He should be sacked forthwith.
B Kiernan, Blackburn, Lancs
It makes my blood boil to think that those couples were turned down for continuous care. It's about time the bloody government should get the NHS sorted once and for all. This country is losing out on vital health facilities. It's about time we all saw where the money funded to the NHS actually goes.
Tracy Mann, Wigan, UK