'Care home business model doesn't allow for quality care', Baroness Bakewell tells LBC

14 May 2021, 16:18 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 14:42

By Tim Dodd

Baroness Joan Bakewell tells the Difficult Women podcast that care homes experienced "tragic neglect" during the pandemic, as the sector is "run for profit" instead of "quality care."

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Speaking to Rachel Johnson this week on Difficult Women is broadcaster, author, journalist and member of the House of Lords Baroness Joan Bakewell.

Rachel asked Joan: "If the government was to do this again in a subsequent pandemic, how do you think they should arrange life for the elderly better?"

Joan replied: "When it hit we took several wobbly turns because it was completely new, and the neglect of the care homes was really tragic, just so distressing. People - by the time they're in a care home - they're not going to stand up and shout, or complain, or write to their MP.

"The problem is Rachel, you have a system in which care homes are often run for profit, and it's very hard to fund a care home. You need a lot of money to be spent on the care of the old, their circumstances and their welfare. And if you are running it as a business, it's in the nature of a business plan to keep the cost as low as is reasonable, without neglecting care.

"But it doesn't open the opportunities for spending lavishly on the care of the old. The charities that run care homes are often run as more attractive establishments."

Joan also spoke about her experiences working in misogynistic workplaces:

"I was a woman in a world where men reached out and touched women and fondled them, and would take any chance they could to squeeze up against them, to proposition them. If you had an affair with a man it probably promoted your career a little bit.

"You dealt with it. There were ways of avoiding it, or dealing with it - either shouting about it or moving away, making sure you weren't alone in the same room as someone, or in the same lift.

"Women negotiated these matters as they wanted to, and it suited some of them quite well. I just regarded it as part of the landscape, it was the water in which I swam. It wasn't exceptionally bad behaviour, it wasn't even considered bad behaviour."

When asked if she would complain to her line manager if it was happening to her as a young woman today, Joan said: "I think it's died out a lot in society. So when you read a case of an MP being reported for having put his hand on someone's knee, you think - they don't know what went on.

"The world has changed. A hand on the knee has to be removed or slapped, but it doesn't have to be reported to the law I don't think."