By Debbie le Quesne

Asian model for care: I don’t think so

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How are supposed to cope with an ageing, more medically demanding population in the UK? Easy, says our Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt: Adopt the Asian culture in caring.

The British way is deeply flawed, he maintains, so we must look overseas for sustainable answers. Hmmm . . .

Quite how we are supposed to suddenly stop being British, I don’t know, but any student of history will tell you that culture is a developing thing and takes generations. Obviously a quick fix is out of the question then.

In a speech he said the Asian way showed  “reverence and respect”. Perhaps, but it truly is a shrinking ethos as Asia becomes more and more westernised.

I’ve been privileged to travel and what has struck me most in these cultures is the poverty, sickness, neglect and chronic conditions.

Just imagine if we did take this path of madness. Firstly, the responsibility for caring generally falls to women – and usually to the middle-aged mother who is also still mainly responsible for bringing up children.

Caring means giving up work, so is the government now proposing we should quit our jobs? And in the role of community full-time carers women would perhaps consider their response to having children – is this the driver, I wonder?

I read in a national newspaper that “Italy avoided bankruptcy in the financial crash largely because its welfare state is largely conducted by an unpaid workforce of guilt-tripped women. Having children has become a minority occupation.”

A daily newspaper in Seoul asked in a headline “Where are the human rights for the elderly?” The story beneath unfolded a catalogue of shame – care homes that were filthy, stinking and without compassion.

In Japan I understand many younger people have abandoned their parents and grandparents for jobs far away from their homes as the economic downturn bites.

Perhaps the Japanese leaders have inspired the UK cabinet, as Japan’s response to financial crisis is the same as ours with huge cuts in social care funding.

Be under no illusion, Asian care really isn’t the way ahead.

Mr Hunt, if you want Britain to be “the best place in the world to grow old in” please think again.

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