Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

You don’t have to be a prima ballerina to deserve a little dignity

  • Comments (20)

Like Eileen Shepherd, I was appalled at the story of Elaine McDonald, who lost a supreme court appeal against the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s decision to withdraw the night-time care that enabled her to use the toilet.

Instead Ms McDonald has been told to use incontinence pads – even though she has mobility problems rather than incontinence.

Of course it is dreadful that a woman who is not incontinent should be condemned to lying in her own waste throughout the night. Where is the dignity in that? But something else also angered me about the story.

Ms McDonald is a celebrated former ballerina with the Scottish Ballet, and received an OBE in 1983.

I know this, and a whole lot more, about her because her case was covered extensively across the media. From the BBC and the Guardian to the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail, the story was given huge prominence, particularly online. But the stories focused on Ms McDonald alone, and made much of her distinguished career and honour.

What about the many other people who may be affected by this decision? Councils are desperately looking for ways to save money and have just been given a clear message. It’s OK to stop funding night-time visits to people who need help to use the toilet.

Charities commenting on the case pointed out that the court decision had wider implications for some of society’s most vulnerable people. Michelle Mitchell from Age UK called the decision shameful and said it “opens the door to warehousing older people in their own homes without regard to their quality of life”. However, her comments and those from other charities came towards the end of the BBC’s and Guardian’s stories and were ignored by the Mirror and the Mail.

As far as the media are concerned the story is interesting primarily because Ms McDonald is, to quote the Mail “a once beautiful and gifted former ballerina”. Surely the real story is that tens, if not hundred, of thousands of older and disabled people may now be expected to lie in urine and faeces until their daytime carers arrive?

You don’t have to be a prima ballerina to deserve a little dignity.

  • Comments (20)

Readers' comments (20)

  • Anonymous

    Disgusting for ALL these people, and who knows, we may become one of them, in the future

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    nothing short of barbaric. all the physical and psychological dangers of this are obvious and have been discussed elsewhere but what about the bad odours and hygiene, and especially in hot weather bacteria, flies, spread of infection, etc.

    surely money can be saved on other less important services such as administration, offices, and on the highest salaries of the administrators, etc. it should all be transparent and open to public scrutiny where savings can be SAFELY made.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is what happens when healthcare becomes a business. Money and profit are placed in higher esteem than care, compassion, dignity or human life.

    Absolutely disgusting, and it will only get worse when the consortia and private companies take over.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    it is just unthinkable and unimaginable that any human could pronounce such a decision on another, and just for the sake of money! it just makes one wonder where some people's values lie, and especially those in positions of power and authority who should be leading by example. no wonder the country is losing direction with no decent role models to guide it.
    no apologies for moralising!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    this is shocking and will become the norm as more councils cut their budgets
    surely there is other ways of managing cuts?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 15-Jul-2011 9:32 pm

    that is the danger that it will become the norm. how can those responsible be convinced that this is not a humanely possible way to go.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    So what are we going to do about it?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Guys, I'm sorry but what do you mean 'become' the norm? It is ALREADY the norm to sacrifice patient care for monetary interests or profit (a basic staffing level for instance, no money for that!) It is only going to get a LOT worse and a LOT more pronounced in the future. I have been calling for so long now for our reps and colleagues to lobby for strike action, but nothing evr gets done. The RCN have finally come out and said they are open to the idea of strike action, but then Peter Carter was very slippery about how he could say that without actually committing to it. I really do despair.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    "Guys, I'm sorry but what do you mean 'become' the norm?"

    the story of the soiled night pads is a new one, which runs a serious risk of becoming the 'norm' but I agree it is just another to add to the long list to prick some people's consciences, although I suspect more likely those of us who care rather and have to deny care rather than those who hold the budgets, make the decisions and make up new rules as they go along in the name of 'cost saving', whatever this means in terms of human dignity and basic need. each new story appears worse than the last!

    we have talked above of all the detrimental effects this last will have on the individuals concerned and I, forget in a comment above (Anonymous | 14-Jul-2011 7:16 am) to mention, in addition to those in other articles, another very important factor, but will take advantage of mentioning it here. it is obvious (to us but apparently not to the decision makers) but I feel that my post would not be complete without it. That is disturbed sleep cause by the discomfort of being wet and soiled which, like all the other associated problems will have serious detrimental physical and mental affects. A slow and tortuous way towards the end of life which deserves, and has the right, to be lived out in dignity

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    totally agree with all above. however no one seems to have picked up on the ramifications of the removal of service. i would suspect that not just Elaine McDonald but all the others who have had this service removed have had much of their dignity removed and now fall into the higher risk category of needing hospitalised due to infection, broken limbs in an attempt to get to the toilet themselves. in the short term if this was deemed as a cost saving excercise i think we will see long term that that is not the case.
    what happend to caring and dignity. the patient having the right to be at home and the fact that home is cheaper than a bed due to an induced infection or skin breakdown.
    totally appauling.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 1020results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.