Thursday, 3 February 2011
The Queen will pay for it
“Is this new greenhouse expensive?” I asked my dad forty years back. Old Scone Nursery, his business for over 25 years, contained hundreds of cold frames with seedlings, fields of chrysanthemums, dahlias, lettuce, cabbage. You name it. And here was a new, 100 foot long greenhouse taking shape in the field. “The Queen will pay for it,” he replied. He meant that he’d received a government subsidy for the project.
Back to the present. When I arrived in the living room I found mama sitting in her chair, perky, irascible and funny. Her eyes were bright as if nothing had happened. Frailer than before; she can no longer walk alone; needs assistance going to the toilet. She’s conversational but often not understandable. The stroke left its mark on her speech.
She came home from hospital to a new bathroom --- built at taxpayer expense: slick, white walls, a shower, toilet, small lavatory and a wide doorway to fit a wheelchair. Wow! Not only has she a new bathroom but a twelve foot long ramp so that the house is handicap accessible.
How did all that happen? A year ago when I first heard that the Scottish government is in the remodelling business, my first reaction was --- “You’re joking.” For thirty years I lived in the US and no one came barging in to remodel my house. Over here, they’ll not only pay for your doctor and hospital but they’ll re-do your house and your home decorations. Even if you're not on welfare.
The wheelchair ramp
The logic goes something like this. A few years back the Scottish government committed to providing free care for all elderly people; at least for those with savings below a certain threshold. The others have to fork out a co-payment. It’s a lot cheaper for the government to keep the elderly in their houses and to send over carers to assist with dressing, washing and food --- in mama’s case four times a day, than to pay for the elderly to be cared for in nursing homes. Plus, there’s a quality of life issue. Everyone wants to be cared for in their own home. So the government will spend the dough to make your house handicap accessible, and upgrade your bathroom so that you can be easily cared for. Of course, you won’t be given a choice of bathroom style or colour, but I haven’t heard too many complaints about the government's taste in decoration.
Conservative as always, mama took one look at the new shower and declared that she hates all showers. She won’t use it. Too bad, said no-nonsense Agata, our live-in carer. You’ll be using it. Mama bowed to the inevitable.