Tuesday 16 September 2008

Happy 100th, Mary McCabe*

I had the pleasure of attending the 100th birthday party of one of my constituents on Friday, in Carmichael House care home. It was a lovely occasion and a rare one too, as stats generally tend to show.

It was great to be there to share in the day, and see Mrs McCabe open her card from the Queen. Regardless of anyone's views on the monarchy, it's quite a touching thing. I'm not sure if that kind of thing is done in other countries - perhaps the First Minister could start it for Scotland?

The majority of the residents had turned out to celebrate, and a crooner, buffet, bar and cake was laid on. There was even some dancing led by some of the sprightlier residents and the very enthusiastic members of staff. I had a nice chat to some of the ladies, and I hope to return for another visit soon.

The experience also made me think quite a lot about how we care for an ageing population. I'm extremely fortunate to have three of my grandparents, all of them in good health and living at home in their eighties and nineties. In Carmichael House some of the residents were in their early seventies. If they live to 100, they will have been in a care home for a substantial portion of their lives. Are they being kept stimulated, and do they enjoy being there? One lady told me it took her a few years to adjust and get used to living there. She still looked a wee bit lonely, and I hope she's ok.

There was a proposal a few months ago that the future of care homes in Glasgow was a change from the current small localised centres to 120 bed homes divided into smaller sub-units. Would this allow for the same friendly atmosphere that I saw on Friday? Can economies of scale balance with personalised service? It's a huge challenge for the Council, and one we need to get right for today's pensioners and tomorrow's.

*SNP folks - no, not that Mary McCabe.

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