Sorry to have been missing!! have been practising my caring skills

September 23rd, 2008

My husband of some 40 years has recently had surgery to his shoulder which has put his arm of choice out of action in a sling for some 3 months, making more than a little busy….

How good it is however to be a carer and understand exactly what others have to do day upon day upon dsy, mostly without any assistance. Not an onerous task, just for me time consuming, with the perameters of our relationship slightly changed, This makes us both aware of our interdependence and how lucky we are to have this.

However it really brought home to us how little help and information is really available to anyone requiring assistance either for a short or long term. We can only  look towards trying to fill the gap somehow.

In the meantime whilst waiting for the end of a physio sesion i was mortified to listen to Mary Warnock….please read the next post…………


Shouldn’t we be pleased that hospitals care about ridding themselves of pests and rodents?

August 6th, 2008

Really what a most monstrous fuss about nothing, it really does amount to a lot of very hot air when the spotlight is placed on the hospitals that have actually been proactive when tackling any infestations they have. This morning’s news was full of the apparent disgrace of hospitals who have responsibly called in the pest police to deal with a plethora of infestation problems from maggots to rats……..I can’t be the only person that is really more concerned about the hospitals who are way down on the list, are they perhaps not addressing the problem, which to me is a far more worrying thought.

Personally I would prefer to be in one of the hospitals at the top of the ‘pest list’ rather than at the bottom – that would actually tell me the hospital was in control of common, yes common pests, not possibly ignoring it, or worse, unaware.

I have news for you, hospitals have always had their fair share of pests, some two legged, some four!!

If you’ve ever worked in hospital, especially at night time, you may have come across our little co-habitors. Personally I have memories of being on night duty when the kitchens were fumigated, I’ve never seen so many cockroaches in my life, nor do I ever want to again, it was not a pretty sight. However, this was in the ‘good old days’ when hospitals were run by the dragons, Matron and her retinue, when all was meant to be spotlessly clean without a super bug in sight!!

 We don’t all see through permanently rosy spectacles, we have to accept that life has moved on, medicine has moved forward and nursing with it. The harpies all want the clock to be turned back, but do they also want medicine to go backwards to? Somehow I don’t think so.

It really doesn’t help to constantly have a go at our hospitals, they are full of hard working, dedicated people who are sick and tired of ‘targets’ – having to fulfil them and be targeted by them. They are also fed up of being on the front line of any political party who wants to score points. Yes of course we want clean infection free hospitals – and that is what people are working towards. After all, if you work in the hospital and community, caring for patients, it really isn’t in your interests to spread infection – as you might be the next person to suffer. So come on, play fair and for once stop lambasting those that are actually working extreemly hard, to do a good job.

 p.s. presume all hospitals have a ‘pest control policy’

To the Arctic and beyond……

June 25th, 2008

To-day we leave to travel to the Arctic, then on to Northern Norway where we pick up a ship and travel down the Norwegian coast to Bergen….on the journey we celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

What will have happened by the time we return in three weeks we ask ourselves?

Will there be industrial action by local authority workers?

If there is a settlement the government and local authorities must also realise that independent providers have only been paid a 2.5% uplift and that had to include additional payment for increased holiday allowance…which meant that to increase wages profit margins have to decrease.

You can’t have something for nothing, we all know that. With increased regulatory and training requirements costs are increasing all the time.

The action by local authority workers is a wake up call ………quality services cost money to provide, we all saw how the tanker drivers held everyone to ransom, we are all now counting the cost of their actions.

There was a previous labour prime minister that suffered at the hands of the trade unions, we will wait and see what is happening on our return with interest.



Older people still being shunted around in hospitals!!

June 22nd, 2008

Really we thought that gone were the days of older people being kept for hours on trolleys in hospital corridors, sadly this appears not to be the case. Ethel my neighbour of 85’s friend, Sally 80, has just related her sad experience.

Having fallen, Sally was taken to her local hospital, here she spent eight hours on a trolley. having sustained a fractured patella, ( broken knee-cap for those who may not know the medical term, )Sally was then transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital. All went reasonabely well until the night before Sally was due to be discharged. She was woken up at 11pm and told that her bed was required, she would therefore have to be transferred to another hospital.

Can you imagine how distressing it must be to be woken up and told you have to go to another hospital. Really is that any way to treat anyone, never mind ladies in their eightieth year? Surely this is no way to run a health service.

Ethel is of the opinion that it is rediculous to stop older people smoking and drinking alcohol. She thinks it would make more sence for both to be available to over 70s at a reduced rate, which would she thinks increase the death rate for older people, after all she says there aren’t the resources to provide for us. As a one time orthopaedic sister who spent many years caring for others, this is a very sad reflection on life as she sees it.

Her own experiences have led her to this sad conclusion, having herself fallen and sustained fractures to her tibia on one leg and ankle on the other. Surgery to her ankle left her with a rotated joint which she was assured would improve with physiotherapy……she was aware it would make no difference and  told the surgeon that if she’d  been younger he might have made a better job of it!! She is now in constant pain with little or no faith left in the NHS.

These two intelligent, courageous women feel let down and abandoned.

Can’t we do better than this? Its time our older patients were listened to and taken notice of and not treated like pieces of baggage to be moved from pillar to post.

The names but not experiences are fictitious.




Having fallen she was transported to her local hospital, where she spent eight hours on a trolley, she had sustained a fractured patella – broken knee-cap for those not familiar with the medical terminology. She was then transported to Stoke Mandeville hospital where she was operated on. All went reasonably well until the night before she was due to be discharged home.

At 11pm, Sally was woken by a nurse and told they required her bed and she would have to be transferred to another hospital!!

Is this really the way to treat older patients, or any patients come to that?

Ethel – who has been an orthopaedic ward sister, is completly baffled as to why there is so much emphasis on stopping smoking and drinking. It is her considered opinion that rather than stop everyone those over 70 should be given reduced cigarettes and alcohol as they would die earlier as there appears to be no wish to provide for the older population.


Without fuel, care cannot be delivered!!

June 17th, 2008

Thank you Shell drivers for making hard working people’s lives even more demanding…if it wasn’t enough with the 10% tax rate being abandoned and increasing cost of living, our carers have been faced with the task of searching for fuel in order to keep working….how stupid and selfish can people get?

Do these drivers seriously consider that the general public have an iota of sympathy for them? Certainly nor amongst anyone we’ve spoken to. The vast majority of people delivering essential services earn well under the amounts earned by these selfish drivers. Oh yes, its easy to hold us all to ransome isn’t it, especially placed as we are at the tail end of the country……..certainly our carers would welcome with open arms a pay rise of over 6%, no chance when our annual uplift from Social Services is 2.5%.

So, our message to the Shell drivers is ‘please return to work and think of the vulnerable members of the community. Without fuel, a variety of essential services cannot be delivered, be responsible individuals and think of others not just yourselves.’

On Father’s Day it is estimated that 2.5 Britains will not contact their Fathers

June 13th, 2008

This estimate made by Help the Aged is at a time when men are living longer. The sad fact is that although the numbers of older men are rising, those living alone are also rising and whilst older women living alone has only risen by 1% since 2004, older men living alone has risen 21% to over one million for the first time.

Why is there an increase in older men living alone you may well ask? Bereavement, divorce and death of friends is the answer to this question. many men have become separated from their families earlier in life and are forgotten by them as they get older.

Are you one of the 50% of adults who would like to keep in contact with your older father more? Apparently one in five people feel guilty about not seeing more of their fathers.

Well, stop feeling guilty, go out there and DO something about it, its Father’s Day on Sunday, plan a surprise visit or at the very least a phone call. Believe me with a son, daughter-in-law and only grandchild in Australia I can assure you that a phone call makes all the difference, cheers you up brightens the day and makes you feel wanted.

Lets all make an effort to seek out the lonely older men, we probably all know someone. Sadly loneliness is the only companion for at least 400,000 older men in Britain according to the Help the Aged policy officer, how sad is that?

Don’t leave it too late, people don’t live for ever. Make this Sunday the day to contact your ,if you’re lucky enough to have one. No good waiting till its too late and then wishing you’d grabbed the opportunity to make contact, try it.

Pensioner Poverty increases for the first time since 1998

June 10th, 2008

It should be a national scandal that according to a government report, pensioner poverty has increased for the first time since 1998, rising by 300,000 to 2.5 million. The number of children living in poverty also rose by 100,000 in 2006/7.

The number of children and pensioners in poverty is even greater if the cost of housing is taken into account i.e. rent/mortgage. Why wouldn’t housing be taken into account one has to ask? The simple answer is to keep the figures as low as possible….

Sadly that whilst the press were happy to shout about chid poverty increasing, there was very little, if any mention about pensioner poverty, yet the figures have risen by 300,000, surely worth some press coverage.

These figures are released at a time when all costs are rising. Its summer now when some are at least able to reduce their heating costs. However in a few months it will be colder and we must begin to think of those who are going to have to make hard choices, food, warmth, care? Really is this how Britons in 2008 should have to juggle their resources to survive?

According to Ivan Lewis, Health Minister, ‘In the next decade elder care will be the new childcare and its essential our policies properly meet the scale of the challenge.’ I hate to tell you this Ivan Lewis but we need to be able to meet the challenge of caring for our current older population. There is so much future gazing and trying to terrify everyone by forecasting huge numbers of increasingly older people that no-one appears to be able to concentrate on providing for those who are here now. We are not convinced by the argument that increasing numbers of older people in the future means that you reduce services now….the gerontologists at Kings College last week were at pains to point out that there was no economic argument for future fear-mongering. 

If pensioners received an adequate pension, they would be able to choose what they spent it on, with the ability to purchase sufficient warmth and food with something left for socialising. They may not need so much health and social care, goodness they may even be able to enjoy life without the worry of how they are to pay for essentials.

Charity coalition report maintains older people being ’starved of care’

June 7th, 2008

Social Policy Ageing Information Network – Spain – is a coalition of 28  charities and voluntary organisations who support older people in particular those requiring care. Included in this group are Age Concern, Help the Aged, Action on Elder Abuse, Alzheimer’s Society, Centre for Policy on Ageing and others.

The report finds that :-

  • although 62 per cent of social services clients are older people, they only receive 47 per cent of the social care budget 
  • Vital services such as transport, cleaning, respite and mobility equipment are being cut throughout the country due to budgetry pressures
  • The number of older people has risen since 1997 however the number of households receiving homecare has fallen since 1997 by a quarter.
  • Local authorities pay lower rates for older people’s residential care than for other groups.

Older people interviewed reported cancelling their homecare services because they could not afford to pay towards them, others had cut back on food and heating in order to keep their care.

As the director for the National Centre for Independent Living commented ‘ The shocking reality is that people needing support are being forced to choose between eating properly and using vital care services.’

David Rogers, Chairman of the Local Government’s Association’s wellbeing board commented ‘ Goverrnment funding has not kept pace with the demands of an ageing population. Local authotities are determined to give disabled and older people a fair deal but the social care system is cracking at the seams.’

Isn’t it time that we gave older people a fair deal? It would seem that we are constantly bombarded by reports concerning the inadequacies of care support. The answer is always the announcement of yet another review or enquiry.  May saw the launch of the governments ‘Case for Change – why England needs a new care and support system, with the aim of meeting the needs of a changing society. When is it going to dawn on government that the rhetoric has to be followed by reality, FUNDING.  Without adequate funding care will always be inadequate.


The Poly Clinic Debate

June 5th, 2008

With the publishing of the King’s Fund major analysis on polyclinics the debate on their possible future is again thrust into the forefront. The BMA appears to be sceptical about their introduction, no doubt due to the fact the GPs fear that some of their powers could be erroded.

Dr. David Colin Thome who is leading this ininitiative along with  extending GP practice hours was at pains to point out when interviewed on this morning’s Radio 4’s ‘To-day’ that extending practice hours  should not be confused with the introduction of Poly Clinics - there appears to be a joining of the two in people’s minds whereas they are separate issues.

Poly Clinics or ’super surgeries’ involve the joining to-gether of practices under one roof to provide not just more GPs but extra facilities, e.g. x-rays, minor operating theatre, occupational therapists, physiotherapy etc. Interestingly this works effectively in other countries, e.g. Germany, however they organise their medical workforce differently…..and this rather than care delivery we fear is the crux of the problem. To run Poly Clinics successfully you need community based specialists as in Europe, in the UK specialists are hospital based, therefore there would need to be a real change in medical workforce mindsets for the clinics to work successfully.

Perhaps we need to ask the question why shouldn’t there be specialists based in the community? They would only refer to the hospital based specialist if admission was required. Perhaps we need more specialists……

In cornwall we have managed to hang on to some of our community hospitals by the skin of our teeth, albeit they are mostly used to rehabilitale older people. Were not these in the past the forerunners of Poly Clinics? Sadly there was the huge rush towards centralising the majority of hospital services at Treliske, which saw the loss of specialist services in places like Penzance at West Cornwall Hospital.

Isn’t it really time that there was a reality check for local populations. We’re told that the survey by the local PCT found there was no requirement for extended hours in GP surgeries in Cornwall. This is truly unbelievable if the working population of Cornwall were the ones included in the survey. Doesn’t it occur to anyone that extended surgery hours may actually reduce hospital admissions and out of hours calls.

Medical care is not just required during office hours, people need to access services when they aren’t working, on their way home or at a week-end. One of my young friends is a medical student in his third year, when asked where he thought he would work after quallifiying he said he could see himself working in Tesco. He didn’t mean stacking shelves or behind a till, he meant in a surgery alonside the supermarket. Come on Doctors, see the writing on the wall, if you don’t grab the ball and run with it then someone else will, and I’ll be calling in at the supermarket on my way home to visit the Doctor alongside collecting something for dinner. 

Is anyone out there listening?

June 2nd, 2008

Lat week we saw the return of the fuel protesters, first in London and Wales and last Saturday on the A30 in Devon and Cornwall. However, it would appear that no matter how many people protest……after all more that one million walked the streets of London against the Iraq war to no avail….there doesn’t seem to be anyone actually taking much notice.

Many are calling for a reduction in tax for commercial users, however it isn’t just commercial users that are being badly hit in the pocket by the rising costs of fuel. Particularly in rural areas, many jobs are practically impossible without personal transport i.e. the car. Nurses, doctors, carers, teachers and the vast majority of our essential services are staffed by people relying on personal transport. It would be impossible to provide care in the community without the use of cars.

Cannot all politicians, national and local, actually take these basic facts on board? How long do they expect people to continue to work in an industry where they are facing increasing costs just by actually going to work? Many young workers are facing the double wammy of loosing the 10% tax band, which for them has not been replaced. It would appear that no politicians care about the young people working to-day, all their interests are focused on the young who are buying alchohol and standing around on the streets.

Politicians, hear this, there are many hard working young people, who should not be penalised for going to work. They are under 25 and do not claim tax credit, they are happy to work for their money….please accept these people are playing a valuable roll in our society and should be treated as equals not discriminated against because they are young.

It would seem that everytime we visit the shops, something in the shopping basket has risen in price. Whilst waiting in the supermarket que on Saturday, several of us had quite a discussion about the price of items in our shopping baskets. Buying bacon for my elderly neighbour, I noticed this was 50p more a pack than the last time I bought some, three weeks ago. Bread had risen some 14p a loaf and so on. We question whether or not we’re being taken for a ride on the back of increasing world costs of food……all the people around me were of the opinion that this is the case………we await the next food companies proffit announcements with interest, and the oil companies, well they must be suffering mustn’t they!!!

No, somehow all the costs are being born by those who can ill afford it,  those on fixed incomes and low wages who will feel the rising costs hit them the most. Mr. Brown and  Darling should look very carefully at how they treat the vast army of Pensioners and lower paid. We all have votes, and the Pensioners vote is very important indeed, after all we keep being told by government how many of us there are…..the synic in me is suspicious that this is an excuse for reducing services, however, Pensioners vote, and their vote will be very inportant in the next election.