Last week’s Panorama story on the ‘alleged’ abuse and neglect in an Essex care home has rightly hit the headlines.  It is shocking and shouldn’t happen – no human being should be subjected to that treatment.

The care home has reacted by sacking staff while the industry has been keen to distance itself as a whole, saying it’s a horrific story but not a reflection of the standards of care in most residential care homes.

Perhaps not but the fact the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the Essex home and gave them a clean bill of health while Panorama was undercover in November, gives some insight into industry standards.

Positive Ageing Tweet croppedIn the fallout of the programme, many commentators have asked how can Britain improve its care homes? In my view Guy Robertson asked the more pertinent question – ‘should we continue to bang so many older people up in institutions? We stopped doing it to kids – is it time to change?

My answer is yes! Change must happen, and it must happen now.

We need to eradicate all institutionalisation of older people and challenge the ageist attitudes permeating the sector and society, which see older people treated as second class citizens.

Instead, we need to provide an environment where people can live happier for longer, while giving carers the skills and the space to do their best.

We also need to #EndAgeism.  Older people are not a challenge, a problem, or a burden on other generations. They contribute immensely to our families and our communities, and deserve to live happy, meaningful and connected lives just like everybody else. Age really is just a number, not a definition.