Pan­demic has raised pro­file of care homes

Western Daily Press - - Business - J Martin Warr, Yeovil, Som­er­set CN Wester­man, Brynna, South Wales

ONCE again our news­pa­pers and other me­dia out­lets are full of ‘out­rage’ be­cause of com­ments made by our hard­work­ing and fully com­mit­ted Prime Min­is­ter which, if one reads their full text, were com­pletely fac­tual.

Care homes are busi­nesses which are run for profit. They work in con­junc­tion with the NHS but are not a part thereof. They op­er­ate un­der rules which are set by Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties and are checked by those au­thor­i­ties for con­for­mance. Care homes can also seek guid­ance from th­ese agen­cies.

As with any busi­ness, there are some which are well run and some which are less so, some which cut cor­ners and some which do not. Ul­ti­mately, bad busi­nesses ‘go to the wall’ but not be­fore em­ploy­ees and users have suf­fered which, in the case of the care sec­tor, al­ways has dis­tress­ing con­se­quences.

Our home is po­si­tioned ad­ja­cent to a care home which is run very pro­fes­sion­ally, the owner of which took ac­tion im­me­di­ately the pan­demic risk was recog­nised. That home, thank God, has ex­pe­ri­enced no prob­lems.

Clearly this pan­demic has raised the pro­file of th­ese es­sen­tial busi­nesses and height­ened the need for even closer co-op­er­a­tion with the NHS, So­cial Ser­vices and Lo­cal Au­thor­i­ties.

Hope­fully, the Prime Min­is­ter’s well-timed state­ment will re­in­force this need and lead to a gen­eral rais­ing of stan­dards in this sec­tor of the care in­dus­try. elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives have a lot in com­mon with them.

The quote – “All for one and one for all” means that ‘each in­di­vid­ual should act for the ben­e­fit of the group, and the group should act for the ben­e­fit of each in­di­vid­ual’. All very in­ter­est­ing when it comes to lo­cal pol­i­tics.

Ac­cord­ing to the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, ‘a coun­cil­lor’s pri­mary role is to rep­re­sent their ward or di­vi­sion and the peo­ple who live in it. Coun­cil­lors pro­vide a bridge be­tween the com­mu­nity and the coun­cil, be­ing an ad­vo­cate for lo­cal res­i­dents, sign­post­ing them to the right peo­ple and keep­ing them in­formed about is­sues that af­fect them.’

This is a view I share, but not one uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged by a num­ber of my fel­low coun­cil­lors. Som­er­set is a largely ru­ral county and we are for­tu­nate in that many peo­ple, of­ten of re­tire­ment age, choose to re-lo­cate here.

The im­pact of this can be a dou­ble-edge sword (Mus­ke­teers anal­ogy?!). There are those, of­ten with in­come at their dis­posal, who are per­ceived to be ‘tak­ing over’, caus­ing re­sent­ment amongst those born and bred in the area. Then, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to plan­ning, there is the NIMBY (not in my back­yard) syn­drome, which frus­trates the hell out of de­vel­op­ers, and some­times plan­ning of­fi­cers.

We live in a con­stantly chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment and hav­ing in­vested money, time and emo­tional en­ergy in your dream home it must be re­ally in­fu­ri­at­ing to find de­vel­op­ment en­croach­ing on the idyl­lic life­style you dreamed of. This is a view I can sym­pa­thise with on some lev­els; the NIMBY re­frain is per­sis­tent but in re­al­ity most peo­ple just want to have their views and opin­ions con­sid­ered, even if the out­come is not al­ways de­sir­able. All this aside, sig­nif­i­cant re­search has shown that where we live does have a huge im­pact on our men­tal well-be­ing. For those mak­ing a con­scious de­ci­sion to seek a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment, I can see why they would want to pro­tect it, find­ing it dis­tress­ing to dis­cover that a hous­ing es­tate is about to be built on their doorstep.

South Som­er­set are cur­rently re­view­ing their plan­ning process, which ev­ery­one agrees is long over­due. Lo­cal coun­cil­lors are in­volved in the re­form that is tak­ing place, but it con­cerns me that some hold the view that ‘parish and town coun­cils have to ad­just to the district coun­cil’s way of work­ing, and learn to vote with their heads in­stead of their hearts’. It will be in­ter­est­ing, come elec­tion time, if the elec­torate do in­deed vote with their heads in­stead of their hearts. I stand by the view that I have been elected, in the face of in­creas­ing bu­reau­cracy, to rep­re­sent the lo­cal com­mu­nity. Where we live is an emo­tional is­sue; can it be so wrong for an English­man to con­sider his home his cas­tle? na­tion to un­der­take, since Ger­many, for rea­sons of its own, had pur­sued a to­tal com­mit­ment of the peo­ple, to build a hugely suc­cess­ful war ma­chine.

Ev­ery ac­tiv­ity in Bri­tain had to be sub­mit­ted to this one pur­pose, that we must win this war.

As we chil­dren were put on the train to be evac­u­ated to a safer refuge, each of us car­ried our in­di­vid­ual gas mask with us, just in case Ger­man bombers flew over­head, to drop poi­son gas on the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion.

Can you imag­ine the mag­ni­tude of that Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse, in the cir­cum­stances, to a threat which might never hap­pen?

Would you com­pare that to present days, when a pan­demic threat­ens seven bil­lion peo­ple, with a vi­ral in­fec­tion of hu­man lungs.

All in­fec­tions of the lungs, such as in­fluenza, are known to be passed on by ex­actly the same mech­a­nism, when I am in­fected, and I cough into your face.

Glob­ules drift in the air, from my air pas­sages, con­tain­ing viruses from the only place in the uni­verse where they are pro­duced, drift­ing air­ily in any con­fined space, with lit­tle con­cern for grav­ity, con­tained in the air which you must in­hale, sooner or later.

Of course, you would tell me that I should fas­ten a scarf over the lower half of my face, if I know that that would at least cap­ture some tiny part of the damp glob­ules which are a threat to the health and life of those I love best.

Even bet­ter would be the wide­spread pro­duc­tion of masks for ev­ery­one, just to re­duce, by just a small but sig­nif­i­cant de­gree, the trans­mis­sion, from out of one per­son, into another.

You see, if we can just cut down by just one, the num­ber of peo­ple whom I in­fect, that re­duces R, the ex­po­nen­tial spread which pro­ceeds from others.

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