TALKING WITH STRANGERS IN THE CITY

Talking with strangers in the city is always interesting.  A man I sat next to on a bus told me he had accompanied his very elderly neighbour, when she had been admitted to hospital the day before.  She’s 93 years old, compos mentis, he said  She hadn’t seen the inside of a hospital since she resigned as a senior nurse in the 1940’s. (Probably  had to leave her post upon marriage).  The modern, 2017, hospital environment was, no doubt, a bit of a shock to the lady.

Pointing out a young girl working in the ward wearing a light blue dress the elderly lady observed, with some disdain, that  the hospital management had left the housemaid to look after the ward!  The man explained the ‘housemaid’ was wearing a staff nurse’s uniform.

Staff Nurse 3

Late 1950’s Staff Nurse

Why is she not wearing her [starched] hat?” … And   “Why aren’t doctors wearing their white coats,” and so on.

More explanations were required.

On the other hand, the senior nurse, (equivalent of a ward sister) who arrived at the bedside in her dark blue dress and her I.D. badge pinned to it, no frilly starched hat though, was received without query.

Marian Chaikin 3rd wife

1960’s Nursing Sister

YOU WILL BE ENLIGHTENED!

An all African Christian enlightenment band set up in the small town precinct at lunch time. You have to know that this is a very compact space and does not compare with the usual expansive high street pedestrian-only shopping areas found in larger urban areas. Also, it is place where people live in maisonettes above some of the shops.

So, there was this band and several large speakers. The decibels were seriously awful, the sound levels hurt. The singing was abysmal, unusually so, it was not what I would have heard elsewhere from African singers.

Apart from a very few young people, who, probably already have damaged hearing from loud noises constantly flowing at full blast through their MP3 players into their ears and the experiences of night club sound abuse, the band was making a good job of keeping people away. Like us, people were skirting around the centre, or rushing past the noise. The few local shopkeepers there are in the precinct will not have been at all happy with their trade being disrupted.

I think enlightenment is a multi-way, personal process. Inflicting injurious levels of auditory pain on people is not a particularly useful step to guide anyone to voluntary enlightenment.

WHAT A SEND OFF!

Now here’s a story; it is a true story I heard about from from someone who was there.

A local man approaching his 90th birthday died last week. Plans were well in hand for the deceased’s 90th birthday celebration, which, would have been this week.

The relatives arranged for a graveside service, a rarity here, these days. The coffin was respectfully and with local tradition, lowered into the grave by the people selected to take the cords with which to do it.

Just as the minister stopped speaking, a man stepped forward, saying he would like to speak. He approached the edge of the grave and stated to the group of assembled mourners, “I bought Peter a bottle of ten years old single malt whisky to give him for his birthday”. So saying, the mourner then revealed the bottle, opened it, and to everyone’s utter amazement, poured the golden liquid contents over the casket.

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UNLIKELY MEETING PLACES.

One of the private dental surgeries has a capacious long reception area, with one high straight backed dining chair, which can be really uncomfortable after five minutes. There is a three piece suite made in those really low deep sitting styles that make it awkward to rise from them, whatever adult age you are. I developed a knack for getting up off this awkwardly designed furniture, not from regular attendance, but from the need to avoid indignity. There is a marble fireplace with mantel at the end of the room near the deep seats. The fireplace is not used. It is well preserved. Near the reception desk at the opposite end are two Edwardian children’s desks. When a child opens a desk lid, there is a treasure trove of pencils, crayons paper and colouring books.

The surgeries, like the waiting room, are panelled in dark oak. Whereas the dental surgeries are well lit, the waiting room appears dark and oppressive, yet, it can be the most sociable meeting place. When that happens, there is a buzz about the room, with friends greeting one another, people engaging with individuals they haven’t seen for a long time. The pall of any nervous tension, any quiet respectful demeanour, disappears. 😀

The modern local medical practice was built to resemble, I think, a Gothic church hall. The architects were very careful to appoint as much light into the patients’ waiting space as possible. Interestingly, with the amount of wasted height, there is no echo. That may be due to the quantity of wood used in the finishing. It’s a strange space which is difficult to make more intimate. Various large green plants have been tried in different positions to try to break up the expanse. The plants are now sitting like sentinels by various doors. Notwithstanding these odd features, if people see others they know, even across the ocean of width, they will acknowledge them, or they will sit by someone, as I did today, when I spotted a person who I had not seen for years. 😮

LEGALLY AIDING WESTMINSTER.

Savage cuts to the legal aid budget, officially mean that lawyers, we are told, will lose 10% of their working income. In turn, this will mean a plethora of other knock-on reductions and constraints. I am mindful of the limitations on obtaining justice the suggested proposals will, undoubtedly, engender. The proposals have yet to be put to Parliament, it will be interesting to see what will be salvaged out of the detail announced today.

Do you think ten per cent cut to income, may focus the minds of the lawyers, who are represented in a rather large number in The House Of Commons? It is just possible, they could decide it is more financially worth their while to devote more time to earning their income from Parliamentary attendance and associated work as the main job, rather than maintain two part-time jobs, the one based at Westminster, perhaps, being more part time than the other.

WHO SAID THE FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST…..

A long time ago I posted about various social issues. One of them was the so-called free personal care in Scotland. A few people spelt out the truth of the myth. It did not suit either the media or politicians of various persuasions to examine the truth of the matter.

Scottish elderly and other vulnerable people, who needed residential care, had certain benefits removed, that their counterparts in the rest of the British Isles were able to keep. By this clawback, there was already a major chunk of contribution being paid to that mythical free care. We worked out that a relative was left with a really tiny sum of benefits from allowances that other British people retained. We did not complain or moan about inequities; we did complain about the iniquity of the claim that there was free personal care.

Various social care organisations and charities now spell out the dreadful scenarios for the elderly and vulnerable individuals of all age groups in the community. Local authorities, who have severely restricted budgets will no longer be able to provide home-help, and arrange for such invaluable support like respite care for carers, (if any is left). The worrying picture painted, is likely to be so. There have been Limitations of service by changing the definition of what constitutes ‘severe or critical need’ for a long time. It is more commonly known as moving the goal posts. Re-defining needs is likely to be played with much more.

Home help provision where I live, used to be means tested help. If you were over a certain low income level, you contributed to the cost of the service. That was generally accepted, until the calculation of the contribution changed to a vastly increased fixed hourly rate, irrespective of the individual’s circumstances. The local authority service provision was in this manner, priced out of the pockets of those who needed it. It became more affordable to seek home help support from private sources, if you could find it.

In urban areas, agencies sprung up under contract to social service departments. This was economic outsourcing. Their service levels and quality of work were of concern. The same applied to care homes, whose services had mushroomed as private enterprise, since the 1980’s.

To counter the worrying standards of care, Care Commissions were set up in recent years, to inspect and regulate standards of practice training and qualification. They were always an imperfect tool, but their existence was preferable to not having any standards to work to. Their budgets are slashed too.

As a humane nation, we did get used to knowing that the vulnerable in our society would be cared for. We are uncomfortable with the growing truth that this is unlikely to continue to be so.

JOINED UP WORKING

Slowly but surely, the hindsight investigation in to the death of a toddler is treading its way through a variety of professional enquiry systems. It strikes me, the disparate enquiries reflect the untidy mass of systems that have not, to date, worked in any coherent way with one another.

My belief is, that until there is serious joined up communication, a trust between the organisations and professionals, to enable them to work supportively with one another, child killing cases in the UK, such as the ones of Maria Colwell, Victoria Climbie, and Baby Peter, will continue to appear.

In times of austerity,tougher times that will cause increased individual and family pressures, where a timely intervention could be a lifesaver, it is going to become even more imperative that services do develop broader interdisciplinary teamwork skills, outside their offices, clinics, surgeries and hospital wards. Egos have to be left at the door!

Quality training and dedicated skilled leadership will go some way to improving community protection services for vulnerable individuals. These and the other service structures mentioned above, on their own will not. I know that recent practice and regulation manuals spell out what I have always believed; (better now than not at all). My concern is that Staff shortages, increased workloads for those who are left in the field, will dilute efficacy for practice developments that are still very much in their infancy.

HIGGLEDY PIGGLEDY NUMBERS AND PLANS

Having got used to cold temperatures and the continuing need to wear at least two if not three layers, I was surprised to find that today;

The spots on the windows were not rain;
That the sun really did mean to shine;
That the wind kept low, almost non-existent.

I trotted out in a skirt and lightweight shoes, wearing a neat woolly jacket and what I hoped was a jauntily tied mottled green/navy scarf. It felt like good mild healthy weather and I enjoyed my walk.

Imagine my surprise when I checked the temperature. It registered at only nine degrees Celsius! Tonight, we took advantage of the continuing good weather and made a nice circular walk. The thermometer gauge had dropped to seven degrees. With clear skies, it promises to be a really cold night, about one degree.

On our walk, we counted out the newly laid TEN speed bumps, down at the harbour road. This has pushed the two and four wheeled ‘racers’ one street back, where people live. Clever that. There’s another road that accesses the harbour. it used to be very quiet; not any more. Anyone who values their vehicle exhaust pipe and body work, or bicycle wheel, now uses that route. Wherever did intelligent social planning go?

AN OLD FASHIONED WAY?

It was an unusual gathering, people were able to socialise and talk together without shouting over the excesses of music. A ceilidh group played pianissimo; it was gentle and lent itself to the atmosphere. The music did not intrude, it did not take over. I returned home having taken great pleasure from the party. How delightful it would be if more functions could really be called social and sociable gatherings.

As it is, music at parties of all sorts these days, is ear-drum splitting and a strain on the vocal chords to such an extent, that it is easier, and probably safer, not to communicate with anyone at all. There is absolutely nothing social or sociable about that.

HAS ANYONE ELSE NOTICED?

The best way to reduce youth interest in social networking sites is for the 17 years-25 years age groups (and older, in that case) to join in. This is, according to survey results announced today, what has happened on BeBo, MySpace and probably others.

It is reminiscent of the revival of denims and other fashion jeans. Those of the senior generations who had already been there, raked through their historical wardrobes and strutted their stuff in denims again. I still do. I can hear it now: “Yeah man, who would be seen wearing ‘wrinklies’ clothes? It ain’t cool”.

I am wondering whether there is a wee bit of hijacking of blog sites, such as this one, where there appear to be distinct signs of twittering going on, rather than familiar blog posts. Has anyone else noticed?