Leaders: ‘Is it right for carers to intervene?’

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FOUR months on from the tragic death of John Gibson, the circumstances surrounding his passing are no less
distressing.

Medics were shocked when they found the 90-year-old covered in blood and wearing soiled clothes, apparently living in squalor.

We now know at least that he
received decent care as he and his 87-year-old sister, who had dementia, struggled to cope with living
independently.

That should be a great reassurance to thousands across the Capital, who either rely on home care, expect to do so in the future or have loved ones who do.

The official investigation into the care received by the siblings has found that their carers did all that they reasonably could.

Mr Gibson was a proud and private man who often refused the help that others thought he needed. Despite that, the carers visited four times a day, kept those parts of his home which he allowed them into in a respectable state, and raised the alarm when he needed medical help, despite his reluctance.

What has emerged from the probe, though, is another important issue regarding elderly care. One that requires a great deal of thought and debate, both publicly and within families.

That is the question of how far well-intentioned professionals, family, friends and neighbours can go in insisting that vulnerable older people accept care.

When someone is living in their own home, and is determined to continue doing so on their own terms, at what point do others have any right to intervene?

There are no easy answers, but, at a time when our elderly population is growing dramatically and is expected to continue to do so for years to come, these are questions to which we will return.

Give them a break

THEY are the unsung heroes who regularly risk their own safety to help those in peril.

Today, the Queensferry RNLI team – the busiest in Scotland – is finally given its moment in the spotlight as we meet the volunteers who keep this lifesaving service running.

To them, the work is a “way of life” and they are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We owe them all a huge debt but we can also help to cut their workload. Calls to Cramond Island continue to feature heavily for the team, mostly needlessly. Make sure you read the signs and check the tides before you leave on your day out – and let the crew enjoy their
weekend.