James O'Brien is Leading Britain's Conversation.
13 December 2016, 11:41
The social care system was described as “reaching crisis point” this week, and this call to James O’Brien today shows the heartbreaking personal tragedies behind the headlines.
Paul’s mother was in her 70s and suffering from some ill-health, which he says that while not being terminal, was chronic. As an ex-nurse, Paul had told his mother that he wanted to care for her if she found she could longer do it for herself.
She had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s which had made living on her own more difficult, and at the end of August Paul received a call from her.
“She told me she was very ill and I went up to see her.
“Before I arrived at her home she actually took a very large overdose of morphine.”
Paul didn’t know what his mother had done at the time.
“I arrived and spent the day with her and she was very sleepy, but we had a lovely day, and I put her to bed in the evening.
“The next morning, she wasn’t with us anymore.”
Paul later found a letter his mother left him, explaining she had deliberately taken the morphine overdose. While this is a difficult reality for any family member to confront, there was another factor that made it all the more tragic for Paul.
“What’s sad for me was my mum died leaving half a million pounds, but she didn’t want to spend £42,000 a year to pay for the care needs she had because she didn’t want us to suffer financially."
Paul understandably said he would “give every penny to have her back”. But for Paul's mother, the cost of care in this country was too much to bear.