On The Edge TV interview with Angela Sherman, founder of Care To be Different
In this clip, Angela Sherman talks about the importance of raw food and hydration for elderly people, plus sources of information about elderly care. Lawyer, Simon Stone, talks about primary legislation, holes in the assessment procedures for NHS Continuing Healthcare and the importance of financial planning. The interview was recorded before Angela’s parents died.
… or read the transcript below:
TC = Theo Chalmers (interviewer), On The Edge
AS = Angela Sherman, founder, Care To Be Different
SS = Simon Stone, lawyer, Kingsley David Solicitors
AS: There are so many cases where rehydration and good raw food can get rid of a whole number ailments, complaints, symptoms – but we look at things in isolation. If you look at the whole body and how the whole body needs to stay well, we wouldn’t have a lot of the health issues we have, in my view.
TC: OK, so I have been asked by the gallery to reiterate the point that we are not giving any medical advice here. If you want to start taking kernels of apricots, do it upon your own advice, from your own sources.
So in terms of food and nutrition, presumably it’s not desperately good at these homes anyway, is it?
AS: No, it’s not. As you get older, from what I have read, the thirst response diminishes, so an elderly person won’t realise that they are actually dehydrating and, generally speaking, the amount of fluid that you would have in any given day in a care home is quite small.
TC: A couple of cups of tea.
AS: But that’s the ‘norm’, so again it’s the system that’s perhaps not dealing with the natural health of the person, and hydration is so important and that’s one of the things that I have complained about at times. But it’s difficult. They are in a system that does not recognise that perhaps, and the individuals within that system are working to the best of their knowledge, as they have been trained, so it’s a difficult balance.
TC: So, if people are in the position you were in, if people who are watching for instance, have got parents that are either contemplating going into a home or need to go into a home and have no choice really, what advice would you give them?
AS: Do some research on the web. Look at websites like Age Concern, Help The Aged [now AgeUK]. The Alzheimer’s website is excellent, even if your relative doesn’t have dementia, the website is full of good information.
TC: Alzheimer’s is just one kind of dementia, isn’t it?
AS: Yes, I am not really familiar with the different kinds. If you have it, you have it. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called, it’s how it affects you. But their website is very good. They have a forum also on the website which is useful to look at and contribute to. But there are lots of places on the web you can go to for information. Sadly, going to Social Services, if you have any sniff of a savings account, will get you nowhere. You need to go to the charity websites – the voluntary sector organisations – for information. Some of the government sites are fairly useful. If you are looking at Lasting Powers of Attorney, then the public guardianship office one is useful.
TC: Is it important to go back to primary legislation, Simon? If you don’t know what the law is, what the statutes are – (I have to be careful what I say now because John Harris is probably watching). So the statutes, rather than common law – if you don’t know what they say, then you can’t really take a view. So is it important for ordinary members of the public to go back to the law, because you can go online and read any Act, can’t you?
SS: Yes, the trouble is there are so many Acts, you have to make sure you are looking at the right one, and it is difficult because if you have five NHS Acts –
TC: And then you have precedents as well, which changes things like the Coughlan case…
SS: Exactly, it’s always good to go back to basics with these things though: What is a primary source, what does it say – and then move forward, but it’s rarely at that level that we have the problem. The greater problem is then in people’s interpretation and how they write things up. Angela was talking earlier on about the assessment that I attended, and it became very clear to me that they were making assessments on her father based on notes written by a night nurse in a log or diary at the nursing home. Now the nurse was putting in what she thought was right in there, and it probably was right, but…
TC: And she was probably a qualified nurse…
SS: Probably, but at the end of the day it wasn’t the doctor. I said, “At what point are you going to discuss this with his hospital doctors or his GP?” And it was almost as if that was “Yeah, I suppose we’d better do that.” I was very surprised, because I would have naturally thought that was exactly the sort of source they would go for. It wasn’t the case, they weren’t going to do it and had I not said it, I wouldn’t have believed it.
TC: So you have got to insist that they take notice of the medical opinions.
TC: Do you think if your father hadn’t had cancer, you would have won?
AS: No, I think I would still be fighting.
TC: Do you think you should have won?
AS: Yes, absolutely.
TC: Given that he had Parkinson’s for 25 years.
AS: Yes, regardless of whether he has cancer or not, I think he should have been eligible for nursing care.
TC: Jackie in Scotland has written: “On the subject of cancer, I reckon the conventional treatment killed my father. Good show.” Well I am really sorry to hear that, Jackie, and thank you for the kind words.
I imagine there are a lot of people in that boat. How many people did you say were in nursing homes?
AS: About 420,000 in the UK.
TC: That’s a huge percentage of the population isn’t it?
SS: It’s growing.
TC: We are an ageing society.
AS: And care fees are rising faster than inflation and, you know, the whole bill for care is a real issue.
TC: It’s like the pension time bomb. This is the care time bomb.
SS: And the knock-on effect is often with our generation, as it’s our parents that are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s are facing it, but we have to deal with the consequences.So many people now are coming in my offices to discuss that thing that one of the contributors to the programme has mentioned tonight – about can we give away the property. There’s lots of that sort of discussion going on and that needs to be covered. People need to go and see a solicitor or The Citizen’s Advice Bureau to get good, solid advice about what they need to do about when they or their parents are getting older.
TC: Can you get good advice at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau?
SS: Yes you can, but this area is becoming quite specialist, and if you don’t get the right advice then of course, it can be disastrous.
TC: And if you do something wrong, if you take the house away, and pretend – I don’t how you’d pretend, how you’d do that…
SS: You can’t hide it anywhere really.
TC: You can’t hide a house. Obviously you are not going to give a legal opinion on air here, but there are some perils in trying to hide the assets, or hive them off.
SS: Quite right and there are some very serious consequences to people who do that. It’s best avoided at all costs. But the whole issue about how you structure getting old – what have you got to do about inheritance, what have you got to do with inheritance tax, how do you best deal with going forward so that the taxman doesn’t get too much, so the state doesn’t get what it shouldn’t get – and ideally those loved ones left also get what they should be getting.
TC: I’ve got to say that I am surprised that any government can justify taxing, having taxes on people’s assets when they die, because the assets that they have when they die have been tax paid, and that’s their little nest egg, their pot, and then they go, “Right, let’s have some of that.”
SS: We have situations where you pay tax on tax. If you take on a commercial –
SS: Well that’s one. If you take commercial premises and you pay your rent, you pay VAT on rent, you pay stamp duty on the VAT and the rent. Now I know there is an element of input tax and output tax as far as VAT is concerned, but its tax on tax.
TC: But petrol is tax on tax because you have petrol excise duty. Then there is VAT on the excise duty. OK, we are getting off the subject a little bit about people in care homes so…