Opting for the orient
By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON
Last week, the Guardian ran a piece about the increasing number of elderly people who are finding care home places in other countries, notably Thailand. Families were doing this, said the article, because they are unable to source acceptable care for a loved one at an affordable price here in the UK.
I’m quite comfortable with this apart from it depleting our economy. But if our worst fears about the free movement of labour come about in the wake of Brexit, then it makes a kind of sense that, if the workforce cannot come to us, then we should go to where the workforce is.
Some might argue that this is cynical exploitation of cheap far-eastern labour by relatively wealthy westerners but from what I gather, positions as care workers are much sought-after in these countries; that the pay is above average and that employers have significant training budgets. And there is no lack of anecdotes from elderly expats expatiating about the marvellous care they receive.
There is also the consideration that UK universities are more than happy to include overseas students in their intakes, in fact they have to if they are to make ends meet, so if tertiary education is a global market, why not social care?
A lawyer has warned that pension entitlements may be affected if one goes to live abroad but this has clearly not deterred those who have already decamped; one must assume they did their sums.
In these days of Skype and other social media the ties that bind one to a place may not be quite so constraining. The idea of spending one’s final years or months in Thailand or Sri Lanka has a certain appeal; the last big adventure if you like, and it’s a great excuse for family members to make a holiday out of visiting.
So, unless our government acts to make social care the vibrant and egalitarian sector that it should be, the oriental option is likely to become increasingly popular. I like the idea of pushing my rattan zimmer-frame onto the verandah of a far-eastern care home to take-in the sounds and smells of a balmy tropical night.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.