Wednesday, 25 March 2015

My sister had major spinal

surgery yesterday. The operation lasted almost five hours and last night she was still in "intensive care" and on "assisted breathing". The Senior Cat is frantic with worry. He couldn't settle to anything yesterday and he has just prowled out this morning admitting that he did not sleep well. 
We knew this would happen. We did not tell him until afterwards just how complex the surgery was. It was "external" to the spinal cord and, while serious, not nearly as serious as some types of surgery. It was a complex and fiddly "engineering" procedure involving vertebrae. 
All being well however she should be recovering at home in a remarkably short time. 
Still, the Senior Cat worries. He is a "born worrier". I understand. After all Middle Cat is his second daughter.  I can even sympathise. Middle Cat is my sister and I am concerned for her.
There was something else in this morning's paper that made me wonder about the care she is getting. It is probably excellent. The hospital has a good reputation. She knows and trusts the surgeon. She has the medical knowledge and had done the research.
But there was a report in the paper about the way our prison population is growing older and the care that some of the oldest prison inmates might need. It is a problem that most people will never have thought about. We don't expect "old" people to be in prison. A decade ago there was 80 yr old man in prison. Now there are eight more than 80 - two who are 87. They are sexual offenders who were convicted late in life. 
The report is suggesting that they will need to have special consideration and care. Well yes, everyone has the right to the basics of life. I find the activities of sexual offenders utterly repugnant but I acknowledge they have the right to food and shelter and access to the bathroom and so on.
But, the report goes beyond that and suggests that they need to be treated just like any other elderly person in a nursing home and provided with art and music appreciation classes, craft work and other entertainment. With the exception that they would not be allowed to leave prison it is being suggested that they be treated no differently to those outside the prison walls.
My observation of life in nursing homes and the lives of elderly in the community suggest to me that the offenders would actually be better off. Many nursing homes are not able or are unwilling to offer the residents much in the way of activities or entertainment. Many elderly people who still live in the community are isolated from activities simply because it is too difficult to get to and from them. 
If the recommendations of that report were implemented elderly prisoners might actually be better off than many people in the community who have committed no offence at all. 

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