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Punishment rooms in care homes? I can think of worse ordeals

June 9, 2017

Political incorrectness alert: this post contains content that some readers might find offensive, especially if they are beyond retirement age and facing the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in a care home.

Good. That’s that sorted.

I’m delighted that the directors and employees of a care home company in the West Country have been convicted for their policy of locking up awkward residents in a punishment room. I’m not sure what is likely to shock the British public more – that the grumpy recalcitrants were banged up in a damp cold room with no toilet and only a half-inflated airbed for company, or the fact that these unfortunates actually paid for the privilege.

But ever since I read about this story, I’ve been thinking. Perhaps punishment cells for the elderly do have a part to play in their care. Before you choke on your Waitrose guacamole, hear me out.

I’m not quite at the stage when my children might think fit to wheel me into a care home. But if and when that time comes, I would demand to see the punishment cells. You see, I always thought that I’d cope with prison pretty well, so long as my fellow inmates left me alone. Four walls, barred window, a ton of books and some writing materials? Heaven!

Now assuming I was reasonably compos mentis by the time I checked into my geriatric Hotel California, it wouldn’t take long before I was howling for some peace and quiet. I know this from my observations of my mother’s care home. It was very benign, but the life of the inmates was punctuated by continual interruptions.

Well-meaning people trying to encourage you to dance and take part in quizzes, though mercifully not at the same time. Residents suffering from mild dementia patrolling the rows of incumbent sleepers, inspecting their personal belongings and engaging in meaningless conversations – mostly with themselves. The occasional tourettes-like outburst from one lady who wanted to stand up when she was sitting down, and sit down when she was standing up.

I can imagine that I would react in one of two ways. Either I would become demented in very short order and join the mumblers and the ranters, or I would be become irritated to the point of violence. So the idea of a punishment cell to which I could retreat after pouring tea over my neighbour, putting rat poison in their cake or groping the carers would actually be quite attractive. And if I wanted to make the swiftest possible exit from this world with a nifty dose of pneumonia, the colder and damper my place of confinement the better.

Of course it would help if there was also a room with slightly less spartan conditions where I could be locked away with my books without the chance of my expiring within 48 hours. But I’d probably want to stay there indefinitely.

A really imaginative care provider might also provide a cooler, where I could sit like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape chucking my baseball against the wall, fantasising about breaking out of the home on my mobility scooter and coming to grief in the privet hedge at the back of the garden after a thrilling chase by the care workers dressed as camp guards.

Speaking of Nazis, you could also have the Max Mosley option (for an extra charge of course) wherein you are locked in the punishment cell in the company of a couple of jackbooted dominatrices, there to whip you until you expire with the excitement of it all.

The way I see it is that if you are going to pay good money for the privilege of being incarcerated by a gang of psychotic profiteers, you might as well enjoy the experience, even if it’s the last you have on earth.

With that in mind, unless I’m lucky enough to keel over before I reach the portals of the Sunset Retirement Home, I’m going to compile a list of all the nasty, petty, spiteful things I could do to upset the owners and the staff. And I shall keep it in my pocket, in case I forget them by the time I get there.

Come to think of it, no need. I’ve been practising on my long-suffering wife for years.

From → Film, Social, UK

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