Lest anyone assume I am completely anti-travel following my last posting, in the wake of the Southern Cross care homes scandal among other elderly care scandals, I really hope the following urban legend is true. And if it is, why are Saga being so slow off the mark to add it as an extra service?
'About 2 years ago we were on a cruise through the western
Mediterranean aboard a Princess liner. At dinner we noticed an elderly
lady sitting alone along the rail of the grand stairway in the main dining
room. I also noticed that all the staff, ships' officers, waiters, busboys,
etc, all seemed very familiar with this lady. I asked our waiter whom the
lady was, expecting to be told she owned the line, but he said he only knew
that she had been on board for the last four cruises, back to back.
As we left the dining room one evening I caught her eye and stopped to
say hello. We chatted and I said, "I understand you've been on this ship
for the last four cruises". She replied, "Yes, that's true." I stated, "I
She replied without a pause, "It's cheaper than a nursing home".
She wasn't wrong. Here's the proof; -
The average cost for a nursing home is $200 per day. I have checked on
reservations at Princess and I can get a long term discount and senior
discount price of $135 per day. That leaves $65 a day for:
1. Gratuities which will only be $10 per day.
2. I will have as many as 10 meals a day if I can waddle to the
restaurant, or I can have room service (which means I can have breakfast in bed
every day of the week).
3. Princess has as many as three swimming pools, a workout room and free
washers and dryers.
4. They have free toothpaste, razors, soap and shampoo.
5. They will treat you like a customer, not a patient. An extra $5
worth of tips will have the entire staff scrambling to help you.
6. I will get to meet new people every 7 or 14 days.
7. TV broken? Light bulb need changing? Need to have the mattress
replaced? No problem! They will fix everything and apologize for your
8. Clean sheets and towels every day, and you don't even have to ask for them. Regular cleaning services and rubbish disposal.
9. If you fall in the nursing home and break a hip you are on Medicare.
If you fall and break a hip on the Princess ship they will upgrade you to a
suite for the rest of your life.
10. Free live entertainment on tap.
Now hold on for the best! Do you want to see South America, the Panama
Canal, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Fjords (insert location here)?
Princess will have a ship ready to go. So don't look for me in a nursing
home, just call shore to ship.
P. S. And don't forget, when you die, they just dump you over the side at minimal cost.'
Talking of end-of-life care, recently I had the privilege of touring the local hospice where I marvelled at the facilities and the hospice's ethos that 'if a patients' last wish can be granted, we will.' Stable-wide doors enabled beds to be wheeled round the entire complex including into idyllic gardens or the chapel which was used for entertainment and events as well as multi-faith services. A recent resident, a keen horsewoman had had her horse visit her room to say goodbye! Deathbed weddings abounded. Music therapy rooms and art therapy rooms were on hand as was counselling. Paintings and poems by both patients and their loved ones adorned the walls. At night a drinks trolley did the rounds dispensing comforting nightcaps of patient choice. Palliative care ensured no one died in pain and un-uniformed staff, one with rainbow-coloured hair although she was a trained nurse, ensured no one died alone. Their families were also welcomed back for counselling, sometimes for years afterwards, though some came back to volunteer with the gardens or the hospice bus rota. An incredible sense of peace pervaded, even though it was located right next door to a main hospital. All in all, visiting the facility was a surprisingly uplifting experience, but for the thought; 'It's just a shame people have to be terminally ill to enjoy this level of care and comfort, and among the lucky ones to get in, even then.' All sick or elderly people should be treated with this level of care and respect. I have no doubt Dignitas would have fewer customers if more people had the choice of a dignified and painless end in such surroundings.