Ed Balls goes to live and work in a care home in an upcoming two-part BBC documentary Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls.
The broadcaster and former Cabinet Minister is on a mission to find out what life is really like on the front line for those who work in elderly social care and the people they serve.
The new documentary is also very personal for Ed as his mum has had dementia and for the last three has been in a care home. He also explains his feelings of guilt for failing to tackle the care sector crisis when he was in Government.
Ed goes to stay and work in St Cecilia’s in Scarborough, a typical family-run mid-sized business.
In the first episode, which airs tonight, he is given on-the-spot training, experiencing what it is like to receive personal care as a resident.
Ed is seen being hoisted via a sling from a bed to a chair and at one point says: ‘When you’re down here, you realise how important the communication is. Because you do feel quite vulnerable, like someone else is taking control.’
He is also fed by the staff and has his teeth cleaned.
Ed shadows careworker Allison and under her careful watch, he helps wash and dress 88-year-old Phyllis and gets Theresa up and out of bed using a hoist.
He quickly realises that the work is intense and much harder than expected as it’s both physically and emotionally draining.
Things get even tougher when he watches Alison attempt to administer personal care to Frank, who, suffering from dementia, confused and scared, grips her too hard causing her pain.
With the Government currently promising to raise money for health and social care through a National Insurance rise, Ed wants to find out from the people on the ground what the biggest issues are.
Explaining one of the reasons why he signed up to make the documentary, Ed said: ‘Social care is an issue that matters for all of us. I came into this as someone who has engaged with social care a great deal over the last 15 years both as an MP and Treasury Minister and also as a son because my mum has been in a care home for three years now.
‘As a result, I started out thinking I knew what social care was all about and was shocked to discover how little I knew and how much I had to learn. Even as a family member, with my mum in a care home, I didn’t realise how personal, difficult and challenging it would be to work as a carer.’
Ed added that he did things he had never done before while making this film.
‘I have never changed an adult’s pad, catheter or a stoma bag,’ he said.
‘I’ve never full body-washed an 80-year-old man or applied cream to the legs of a 94-year-old woman.
‘I’ve never shaved anyone before except myself. I did all these things but I learned to do them in a way that is reassuring, respectful and preserves their dignity. It was hugely challenging and also fulfilling.’
Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls airs tonight at 9pm on BBC Two.
Credit: Original article published here.