Friday, 20 February 2009

IS ANYONE LISTENING? Not in Northampton it seems

"Help the aged's" recent report "IS ANYONE LISTENING" highlights the shameful decline of Sheltered Housing services in the UK since the governments "Supporting People" fund was cut back. Across the UK Councils are reducing the number of Wardens they employ, and in many cases including in Northampton those Wardens who used to be "Resident" (living within the scheme) now have to cover a number of schemes over a wider geographical area. Those without access to a vehicle can spend vasts parts of their working day simply walking between schemes.

My Mum, unfortunately passed away last year (that's her in the photo below, I love this photo which was taken just before she died because she kind of looks proud of her son, I hope that was the case) Mum was in her 80's when she died and she lived in Council controlled Sheltered Housing. She had nothing but praise for her warden, and her passing away in no way can be attributed to any reduction in service, she simply had a heart attack from which they could not revive her. But every Sunday I would visit her and she would fill me in on all the gossip about who had been ill that week, who had moved in, or had gone to that other great Sheltered Housing scheme in the sky, and a common theme in our discussions would be that on more and more occasions it was the other residents in the scheme, rather than the warden who was on hand during any emergencies that arose. Mum herself although no spring chicken, would increasingly often be popping in to see people and without knowing it providing a service which up until very recently had been provided by the Resident Wardens. Why then were people who themselves needed support, ending up having to support others?

The situation now in Northampton has deteriorated even further. Residents who are assessed as requiring a "daily visit" from the warden often have to suffice with a 10 second discussion via the door intercom system with the warden asking "are you OK?" before hurrying on late to their next call.

Residents can take a fall and instead of the warden being on hand to answer the "Call Care Emergency" request, it is the neighbours who are often first on the scene, trying to offer help to people just as vulnerable as they are themselves.

I don't blame the wardens though, often they are saints, but I do blame the Councils they work for who are presiding over cruel and ineffective changes to a system which previously had given so many people their independence in their later years.

Now, with less support at home and also no wardens on site, available when they have "a turn" too many end up being admitted to Hospital when all they needed was a cup of sweet tea and a chat from the warden. Too many residents are giving in altogether and ending up in residential care homes unnecessarily, and the savings the government made to the Supporting people fund" are being spent tenfold by Social Services and The Health Services propping up a purposely broken system which didn't need fixing in the first place. Its high time we reviewed just what we have done.

Its high time that all the agencies got their heads together on this one, perhaps we no longer need separate Wardens provided by the District Councils, Home Helps and Meals on Wheels services provided by the County Councils and District nurses provided through the NHS all scurrying around with no time to provide a proper caring service for those who depend so much on them? Perhaps they could combine their budgets and provide a better "on site" service which led to less hospital admissions and less people ending up needing residential care before their time?

What is crystal clear is at present they are all wasting money they can ill afford to waste providing separate inadequate services which are not serving the needs of some of the most vulnerable in our society. As a result our hospital wards are overcrowded with people whose admission could have been avoided and Private Care Homes are filling their beds at the expense of the state, and also to the detriment of peoples right to live independently as long as they are able.

I am currently taking this fight to our local council and pleading with them to listen for once, rather than pretending that they always know best. They have promised a review. Lets hope its principles and outcomes are not single minded and another attempt (as they have done in the past) simply to save money for one authority at the cost of another, and mores the point at an even greater unacceptable cost to the very people they should be protecting.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Thank you Lily, you made my weekend.

Those of you who haven't found Lily Allen's new album yet are missing out on the one of the best anti fascist tunes I think I have ever encountered. Its a bit blunt. In fact its very blunt! And before clicking on the link at the bottom I would make sure their are no minors in the room.

Not only is it good but it's catchy too, and I can see a number of kids getting themselves into a lot of trouble singing along to this little number. Anyhow enjoy it and remember the next time you are confronted by small minded bigotry, why not send the perpetrator a copy. It was originally called "Guess Who Batman" and was probably written for GWB himself as a parting gift to him leaving the Whitehouse, but it suits a wide range of nondescript hate peddlers

I would therefore like to dedicate this next song to Nick Griffin, to all his crew at the BNP to George Bush, to Jim Davidson to Chubby Brown, to Phillip of Greece and to every racist/homophobic or small minded bigot in the world.




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