As a parliamentary candidate, social enterprise manager and director, and as a teacher, Fiona Hornby is used to the controversy that surrounds social issues. After caring for her own mother for over ten years, she was determined to end the confusions and to help others deal with the difficulties of looking after parents in their old age.
So she’s set up MyParentCare Limited and her website www.myparentcare.org.uk has just gone live. It aims to provide a guide to the nation’s care home industry and a forum for views and ideas about how to improve it – as well as improve the more general lot of the elderly.
She’s been working hard in her home near Pewsey collecting together some forty thousand pieces of information about the care of the elderly.
The site lists care homes, care providers, nursing homes and local authorities. It is a work in progress – for instance at the moment it only carries information about care homes in England. Those in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will follow as soon as possible.
Fiona decided to start the website when a close friend of hers “fell apart” during the interminable and unsatisfactory process of getting one of her parents into care – a need which demanded urgent action but “she got lost amidst the rules”.
Too often as a local politician she has heard people saying “I don’t want my parent to go into a home. But I don’t know what to do about it. This site will tell you what you can do about it.”
The site is not just for those who already need care now: “If your parents are fifty-to-sixty now, if they do things now, they’ll have a much happier old age.” Fiona hopes to get enough registered users to generate a wealth of ideas and answers to those very frequently asked questions.
She wants the site to be both informative and campaigning. She cites “The sorry state of the care home industry…the best possible services are not being provided.” And she says “We have to do something about standards.”
“If we don’t start making a fuss, it’s never going to change. They’re mostly businesses, they’re going to do the cheapest option.”
She wants people to use the site to share their experiences. But all comments will be anonymous with a user name: “It’s really important that people talk honestly and anonymously – telling us the good and the bad.” (Legally she has to know who’s behind the user names.)
Fiona wants the site to engage with issues of the day. She may soon be campaigning on how the NHS changes will affect the care of the elderly, or about the government’s attitude (which may or may not be changing) to the Dilnot report on how care will be funded.
Up to her launch day, no one at NHS Wilthsire could tell her who will make the decisions about the need for nursing care after the Primary Care Trust is abolished in April 2013.