Kevin McKenna: It’s time to fully nationalize the care sector

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PREMIUMIUM

It was also the basic virtues of our shared humanity that made Covid’s year bearable. Individual human tales of generosity, self-sacrifice and compassion were next to the mounting infections and deaths.

Chronic struggles were acknowledged, and neighbors duly replied in their purest form with expressions of love: freely offered and in return asking for nothing.

They were an everlasting challenge to the spirit that has corrupted modern Britain’s politics, in which the worth of an individual is determined only by their capacity to be manipulated for benefit.

In April, the first evidence was brought to light of something obscene lurking in our attitudes towards the aged and the infirm. It was announced at the point that elderly people in the hospital who had tested positive for Covid-19 were released back into nursing homes.

I choose to give the Scottish Government the benefit of the doubt that the panicked reaction of a government that was in new territory and needed to respond rapidly was such an obvious lack of basic care management.

I met an old school friend at the time, now employed in a nearby nursing home as a nursing assistant, who wanted to speak to me about the horrors he was witnessing in his workplace.

He was trapped in an awful moral dilemma: between the obligation to go public with his concerns and the knowledge that his income and ability to help his family might be jeopardized by doing so.

Of course, this kind of thing can occur where a workplace is not unionized and managers can bully and manipulate because they know that there is little capacity of employees to criticize their actions.

My friend then told the tale of a nursing home that had been turned into a morgue efficiently and where workers had been ordered into rooms without simple PPE where the virus was bouncing around.

All future whistleblowers, if they even thought of speaking openly about it, were threatened with termination. It was the first evidence to be found in the industry of a greater wickedness, one that sees human vulnerability as something to be abused instead of caring for.

Somehow, we have reached a point in Scotland and in the UK where the most disadvantaged in our society, the ones who need help at the end of their days, are at the mercy of predatory capitalism.

More than 50 percent of Scottish nursing homes are privately owned in Scotland. The number is as high as around 80 percent in England.

An article in Start-up, the business trade journal, conveys the truth, lest anyone think that these private individuals are motivated only by a higher intent. This explains why it can be so lucrative to invest in this field. If you are the registered manager in the smaller care homes, you can make a 35-40% profit on the payments,”In the smaller care homes, if you are the registered manager, you can make 35-40 percent profit on the fees,”

The fees are £ 250 per bed per week. You make a profit of £ 50-60,000 before interest payments on a smaller home with, say, 10 beds.

“With larger operations, you can make more money because you have economies of scale.”

He helpfully adds that because at least 50 percent of nursing staff must be qualified at NVQ level two, this may make it “a big problem.” to find staff.

The U.K. care system is a place where grace appears to be in short supply, but when they need it most, it deals with patients. Current prices are £ 714.90 per week for nursing and £ 614.07 per week for residential care, according to Care Information Scotland, also for “publicly funded service users”

Local councils are expected to set the rates and manage to represent the real cost of providing accommodation and treatment for the care homes they own.

This competition has always been an unjust side effect of the social housing tenants’ right-to-buy initiative by Margaret Thatcher.

Anyone with capital assets of £ 26,500 or more, including their home’s worth, would have to completely cover their own care costs.

For many, this means being forced to sell their house, which was the path to wealth, they were told.

Only the great right-to-buy scam has ever served to appease the financial services industry’s predatory impulses.

The Centre for Health and Public Interest reported last year that care home providers receive £ 1.5 billion a year, most of which is siphoned off by overseas investors.

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