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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Why did our governments forget about care homes?

A recent Guardian heading caught my attention: "More than half of England’s coronavirus-related deaths will be people from care homes". Back in April, the Guardian already reported: "Half of coronavirus deaths happen in care homes, data from EU suggests" (eg, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden). America made the same mistake (NYT).

Why did Western governments forget about elderly people in care homes?

Possibly, the default response was reactive rather than proactive. Hence, most attention was focused on hospital emergencies, like capacity (ie, beds, doctors, nurses), medical supplies (eg, gloves, masks), and logistics (eg, ambulances, cold stores).

Another - albeit Dutch - reason was that care homes were not represented in Dutch governmental crisis teams. I assume that this Dutch situation may well be applicable to other countries.

Actually, the (Dutch) situation was worse: the early March 2020 Dutch corona protocol did not even mention care homes (Volkskrant). All attention went to curing and little to no attention to caring. Again, I assume this was a generic rather than a specific Dutch response.

Possibly, the above is related to ageism: "stereotyping and/or discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. This may be casual or systematic. The term was coined in 1969 by Robert Neil Butler to describe discrimination against seniors, and patterned on sexism and racism." (Wiki). Ageism might explain my question above.

Remarkably, the coronavirus crisis has led to proposals to introduce a 60-minus society (eg, Dutch FT, Dutch Economic Statistical Papers, US National Bureau of Economic Research). Essentially, people over 60 - or whatever other age - should be isolated in order to let the remaining society flourish again. This proposal fits all the defining criteria for ageism.

To some extent, this proposal by economists looks like the Swedish coronavirus approach, albeit with an intelligent lockdown for elderly people.

Ironically, this proposal hurts the people over 50 who contribute the most to global economies (eg, AARP-2019, Research Papers in Economics-2012). Will the above cause new massive global protests by young people about thousands of unnecessary deaths? Probably not. Young people should, however, not forget that time stands stands still for no one.

Time Stands Still For No One (2007) by Steve Laurie

Time stands still for no one, we all know it’s true 
Time stands still for no one; not for me or you

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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