Care homes and the right to die

Summer 2015
Ursula Fausset

My life experience has been as a nurse, an artist, a mother, a patient and, since I founded the first London Gestalt Centre 30 years ago, a psychotherapist.
Our society denies death. I find that it helps people of all ages when ‘death’ is brought out of the closet. Only then can we avoid useless years of suffering brought about by well-meaning medical interventions: otherwise the physical, emotional and financial costs are needlessly enormous.
This year alone, there will be one million more over-70s (in the UK). Yes, we do become a burden and loving openness can mitigate that.

Summary

Death is not a failure.We can rarely call the time of our dying ‘natural’. But whose job is it to decide when it’s time for me to die? The law doesn’t own my life.The medical profession (of which I was once part) definitely doesn’t own my body. I don’t want a doctor to make the burdensome decision about when I’m to die. If I, as an individual, feel my time has come, am I to submit to the cultural norms and become what, to me, would be a victim of the status quo – institutionalised with the rest?

First Paragraph

We take a lot of responsibility these days for our bodies with diet, supplements, exercise, and we also have a wonderful choice of health and wellbeing practitioners. But when it comes to our late, more helpless, years we give up that responsibility. Most of us hand over our life, our bodies and souls, to the powers that be. Care homes and hospitals are overflowing with the elderly, many of whom would rather be dead. We are kept alive by the wonders of modern medicine, thus unwillingly putting more strain on those institutions. There is little time for the overworked staff to be really caring.