Coventry University Professor Mike Hardy was invited to speak on Radio 5 Live last week to discuss comments made by Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes in the Daily Telegraph that families should take greater care of their elderly relatives instead of , in his words, “forcing them into care.” Hughes suggested that we should “follow the example of immigrant cultures who understand the obligation to look after your family till the end.”
Radio 5 Live presenters Peter Allen and Caroline Barker invited the Professor of Intercultural Relations and Director of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations along with journalist Yasmin Alhibai-Brown to speak about the issues of caring for the elderly as individuals and as a society.
Hardy agreed with Hughes that we have a real challenge with care for the elderly but suggested that the politician’s comparisons may be inappropriate as the pressures of modern life, the importance of more than a single income in each household and factors such as distance between extended families can make dedicated care more difficult.
Alhibai-Brown pointed out that non-Western societies are changing too and that communities in urban India do not feel the pressure of such duties anymore – describing this as a “romantic” idea.
Hardy went on to suggest that what is missing might more be about community than family but that some good initiatives are underway such as the World Health Organisation’s promotion of the concept of an ‘age friendly city’. He pointed out that the University is working with Coventry City Council to try to achieve this status which will hopefully encourage more community responsibility.
He stated: “We can point out to families the importance of continuing a relationship, but it is not only down to family, we need to take care of our neighbours as well.”
Listen to the debate at Radio 5 Live, the segment begins at 2:40:00.