Following our exposé last week of the heartbreaking case of a member of our community falling through the cracks of the adult social care system, this paper must now sadly report that it appears to be far from a one-off incident.
When we were contacted last week by an elderly person in distress, this reporter and Councillor Robin Stuchbury tried to intervene in what was clearly an emergency situation.
The virtually immobile person was living surrounded by weeks worth of rubbish that they were unable to clean, in a property with a severe fly infestation, and running low on vital supplies.
What followed was a frustrating hour on the phone, being passed from one organisation to another, and back again, without anyone apparently willing or able to actually take action.
Happily, we can now report that the person in need is getting the help required. Councillor Stuchbury has been in regular contact, including visiting their home They have been assigned a social worker and are due a visit by environmental health this week.
Mr Stuchbury said:
“Since first being involved and meeting Sam I’ve been quietly working with the consent of the person in last weeks article and corresponding with environmental health, who have been seeking ways of assisting sympathetically. I also understand a social worker has now been allocated.
“We are trying to help while acting on advice so as not compromise the interests or confidentiality of this valued member of our Buckingham community.”
However, this is where the good news ends. Over the past week this paper has been contacted either directly or indirectly by no less than eight support and advocacy organisations based in Buckinghamshire who have told us that they regularly encounter scenarios similar to the one we described.
Due to conflicts of interest, many of these cannot be publicly named. One very senior and experienced figure wrote:
"The impact on public sector cuts and ongoing austerity has in my view created more inequality and disadvantage for the most vulnerable in our communities."
Andrew Clark, Chair of Trustees at Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS) was prepared speak out after seeing our article last week. He provided this extremely concerning statement:
“BuDS is an independent charity which defends the interests of all disabled people in Bucks. We read Sam Dean’s account of his experiences trying to help a disabled person in Buckingham with dismay, but without surprise. BuDS offers a ‘last resort’ Safety Net service to disabled people who cannot access help from any other source or who cannot find anyone who will help them, and we are very familiar with the situation Sam encountered. People trying to arrange support for disabled people, whether relatives, friends or professionals, routinely find themselves passed from pillar to post, fobbed off to another department, or just ignored.
“In the last two months, BuDS has had eight similar cases to that encountered by Sam, where no council or NHS service would take responsibility for a disabled person’s acute need. BuDS has also polled a number of advocacy and support organisations who all report similar experiences on a regular basis.
“There is good practice and swift and effective action by social care and health services for some disabled people in urgent need of help. But there are also too many failures of the system and people left in acute need without an easy way to get support.”
This paper will continue to follow up this matter and we would be interested to hear about your experiences with social care and healthcare services in the region.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org