Posts Tagged ‘Health Problems’
As we tidied up after this morning’s encounter with the hordes of squabbling hens we suddenly realised that the time has come for our charity effort. Each year we try to raise cash for ‘Crisis’, the charity devoted to providing succour for the homeless. ‘Crisis’ estimates that there are tens of thousands of hidden homeless people in the UK. These people never show up on government statistics and exist in hostels, squats and squalid bed and breakfasts. They often lead miserable, isolated lives and often suffer from debilitating mental and physical health problems.
Appalling though that is, it is not new. What is new, and equally appalling, is the plight of vast numbers of the housebound elderly and frail. When the coalition enforced huge cuts in local authority funding it did ‘ring-fence’ the money allocated for social care. However, it did niothing to enforce this and right across the country councils have slashed the amounts allocated for what is laughably described as home-care. The result is that many councils now have reduced the time allowed for a home visit to 15 minutes and axed travel expenses. The result is that paid carers – doing tough and unpleasant work – rush from one house to another, can’t cope, and many are giving up in despair.
A report due this week by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ERHC) will put flesh on the anecdotal evidence so far available. It will report on evidence of elderly people being left in filthy nightwear and bedding, of being left without a wash for several weeks, of being put to bed at 5.00pm and not helped to get up until 10.00am the next day. The picture that emerges is straight from the darkest episodes of Dickens.
Someone being supposedly cared for, and without family help, can lie for hours in their own mess, cold and frightened. They can be confused and haven’t taken their pills. They feel ashamed. They feel angry. It could be many hours before someone lets themselves in and washes them. The victim – for that is what they are – hopes for conversation but a carer with just 15 minutes to spare is hard pushed to even complete the basics. As quickly as they entered, they are gone. Silence, despair, all hope gone in an age where even the neighbours are often unknown.
Without doubt there is now a huge social problem, yet we hear little of it. These people can’t go out on the streets to march in protest, or camp outside a cathedral, or strike on November 30th. They are rarely mentioned on television, or interviewed on the Today programme. Anyone in a position of authority is much younger, has children at school and is desperately worried about their own job-security and financial survival. Frail old people are not even good vote-winning material. No one cares. Yet even if only for financial prudence they should, because inevitably this new hidden crisis is resulting in more and more elderly and neglected people being admitted to hospital, there to stay at high cost unless a beleagured social worker can find a solution that the meagre budget will facilitate.
I noticed a small paragraph in one of today’s newspapers. It describes how a pensioner spent two nights trapped in a cold garden shed after a fall. he had ventured that far in search of fuel. It was two days before anyone heard his cries for help and ambulance staff said that Ron Rogers from Rednal, Birmingham, was close to death after succumbing to hypothermia. Proud to be British? I think not.
Of course, now that the disgraceful situation has come under a spotlight the political blame game is underway. Paul Burstow, the care services minister and a LIb Dem MP, is demanding to know why councils are failing to pass on the funding allocated for the care of the frail and elderly. They are, he says, “clearly failing to act in the best interests of their residents”. They must, he thundered, “be held to account”. Indeed, two councils already have been. Sefton (Merseyside) and the Isle of Wight lost High Court cases to cut back on care for elderly and disabled adults. But should we really leave our hidden sufferers to the mercy of the Courts and posturing politicians.
At the last election the then Labour Party leadership demanded, during the televised debates, cross-party talks aimed at protecting the vulnerable from austerity measures. They saw the danger in this becoming an exercise in point-scoring. Andrew Lansley and David Cameron refused this. Now Labour is repeating the appeal and it must be heeded.
How can a society that once prided itself on care and compassion continue to spend huge sums on debatable projects, such as high-speed rail, whilst leaving vast numbers of those who, through no fault of their own, now lie forgotten and ignored?
We codgers realise that promoting the welfare of old ‘uns is not a popular activity. We realise too that some old folk can be difficult, and that there are many other vital priorities. But now the situation has been allowed to spiral out of control, and we are all unwittingly allowing suffering on a scale that has not happened in these islands for almost a century.
The only punch-line we can offer to the politicians is don’t just talk, for mercies sake do something!
It always seems the case on allotments. that the amount of time spent on gossiping exceeds that on gardening. The reason is quickly apparent if you visit. Allotments attract characters and people who share a passion. One of the long-time characters on our set-up was Vernon whose membership predates mine by many a year. Vernon had a greenhouse and, after retirement, spent much of his waking hours there. Ever cheerful, our Jamaican pal became an expert in propagation, you name it Vernon knew how to grow it.
During summer months Vernon regularly set up a trestle table outside his ‘crystal palace’ as he knew it. A constant flow of people seeking advice or a few free samples was a regular feature and tea and rum was not unknown. Vernon was an institution and a much loved one at that. Like the rest of us he was ‘knocking on’ as they say in these parts but had never shown any sign of health problems, his life was too much pleasure to even think of such things. But a few weeks ago he headed home from his greenhouse carrying a large bag of cuttings. As he went through the gate he called that he would not be back so ‘take care you lot’. A few days later he was no more.
This giant of self understanding will always be amongst us in spirit and we now tend to reminisce about the things he did and said. The only thing that he waxed eloquent about, other than his plants, was the radio. Not television but radio. Vernon loved listening to plays and believed that his imagination set better scenes than any TV producer ever could. And he loved the BBC which repreented to him integrity and a refusal to bow the knee.
He would have been relieved, as we all were, at the news that Vince Cable has rediscovered his back bone. The business secretary has referred the bid by Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB for control of the 61% of Sky that it does not own to the regulator Ofcom. His decision was opposed by some other cabinet members and there are no prizes for guessing their identity. The first visitor to Downing Street after the arrival of David Cameron as Prime Minister was none other than Mr Murdoch and we all know the story of how his newspapers came to endorse the Conservatives.
At least the decision will now be made by an independent body. Or will it? Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis has made clear that he will oppose any decision reached by other than Ofcom. In a statement made yesterday he said ” if they seek a political fix in Downing Street, with guests visiting through the front or back door, we will not hesitate to expose the hypocrisy of their claim to be acting in the national interest”. At this point he can promise no more but many will remember the suspicions that surrounded the decision of the Sun to support Blair.
An alliance of media groups, including the BBC, Channel Four, the Telegraph, Observer, Daily Mail and Guardian have expressed great concern at the prospect of Murdoch achieving even greater control of the media than is already the case. The Murdoch empire has regularly been accused of overzealous business practices and the assertion of political power. Although the laws of this country would not permit a news channel so openly biased as Fox News, news can be slanted by the sins of omission.
It is hard to imagine other than that Cameron is under pressure to somehow nod this acquisition through. Cable has just made that a little harder but many experts still believe that there will be intervention if the regulator rules against approval. Should that be the case we will have the final irrefutable proof that our governmental ysstem is rotten to the core.
We will also see the squeeze on the BBC intensify. Sadly its own actions often leave it open to criticism but no one can deny that it remains the one source of honest political coverage in the United Kingdom.
But if you fancy a zillion showings of the obnoxious ‘Confused dot com’ ad plus news that somehow always seems to show the government in a good light then you should cross your fingers that Cameron’s courage matches that of Cable!
FC UNITED LIVE THE DREAM!
Hats off to FC United of Manchester, the club formed by disenfranchised Old Trafford supporters in 2005, who last night knocked the full time professionals of Rochdale out of the FA Cup.
Alex Ferguson has described the rebels as “publicity seekers” but they are far more than that. They rebelled aginst foreign ownership of their beloved Man Utd and gradually came to see just how appalling is the greed that has infected the so called top stars.
Wouldn’t it be great if they were able to negotiate the next round before drawing Man Utd in Round 3. The sight of players out there for the fun of it vying with those who regard £150,000 per week as inadequate just might spell out a much needed message!
YET ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF LIES!
Two High Court judges yesterday made the historic decision to overturn the result of May’s ballot in the constituency of Phil Woolas, the former immigration minister. It is the first case of its kind in 99 years and has resulted in Woolas being barred from public office for three years and expulsion from the Labour Party.
During the campaign Mr Woolas made various allegations against his Lib Dem opponent and these were found to be without foundation. There will now be a by-election.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the former minister had become infected with the general dishonesty that has engulfed all of our political parties. Politicians have always been evasive and less than honest but over the past few years many have stepped over the line that divides questionable behaviour and total dishonesty.
He deserves to go but he should not be alone in that fate!
SALE OF FAMILY SILVER ROLLS ON!
Each week brings news of another piece of the UK being sold off to overseas companies. This week it is the turn of the high-speed rail system. It cost over £5 billion to build and has fetched just over £2 billion.
How about selling off Westminster?
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Sid James 2. Decimalization
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which 1970s glamour competition was disrupted by demonstrators? 2. In which country did 146 people die in a 1970 dance hall fire?