Growing Old Under British Austerity

Old

Directed by Kate Blewitt and Brian Woods (2017)

Film Review

This documentary, released three years ago, profiles the sad desperation experienced by 2.5 million British seniors living below the poverty. It would appear that this vulnerable population is also at special risk to die of COVID-19, owing to clinical protocols likely to deem them unsuitable for hospitalization, difficulty spatially isolating healthy residents from those with coronavirus infection, and failure to provide care home staff with adequate PPE (personal protective equipment).

The British government is predicting that as many as 30% of their care home residents could die of coronavirus.

After watching this film, I’m inclined to agree with this prediction. In my mind, however, the true culprit is austerity-induced poverty – not the loss of immunity allegedly experienced in everyone over 70.

In the film, viewers meet a victim of physical and financial abuse by family members; a woman battling (in court and in street protests) local council efforts to close her nursing home; an elderly man housed in a homeless shelter, a council staffer responsible for organizing funerals for poor seniors who die in total isolation from family members or friends; an elderly male repeatedly robbed and terrorize by teenage residents of his council estate, and an elderly woman who sleeps on the street in her wheelchair.

In the UK:

  • Over 180,000 seniors are abused every year in their homes.
  • One British senior is victimized by crime every 24 seconds.
  • Ten nursing homes close every week – in 2016 these closures affected over 12,000 care home residents.
  • 21,000 elderly live in homeless hostels.