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The key to local success . . .

Lynne Joyce talks about getting Bradford District Council & Health Services to take ageing without children seriously.


At our AWOC Bradford meetings it became apparent that awareness of AWOCs and our particular needs was lamentable in the Council and the health services. Members gave instances of ‘hitting a brick wall’ when trying to get appropriate support and even being ridiculed when communicating their situations or trying to help other AWOCs.

Invisibility is he most commonly experienced issue by AWOCs. Clearly this had to change so I wrote to my local Councillor, Vanda Greenwood, highlighting our issues. She also happens to be Chair of the Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee. She took my correspondence seriously and immediately put me in touch with the Strategic Director for Health & Social Care, Iain Macbeath.


At around the same time another member, Su Mitchell, wrote a similar letter to her local Councillor, David Ward. He took the issue very seriously indeed and presented this motion to Council on December 10th.


Bradford Council Motion - SUPPORT FOR ONE PERSON HOUSEHOLDS DURING THE CURRENT PANDEMIC


This Council notes that the current pandemic has highlighted the problem of providing help and support for solitary people without family or any form of support network and who are therefore particularly vulnerable. The number of people living on their own went up by 16% to 7.7 million between 1997 and 2017, while the UK population went up only by 13%. By 2039, the number of one-person households is projected to rise to 10.7 million and whilst many of them will have families, a significant proportion of that number will not. An outcome of the pandemic is a realisation that people without a support network are particularly vulnerable and that no person or service appears to have responsibility for ensuring their safety and care.


The Council resolves to:


(1) Work with groups and organisations such as Ageing Without Children to quantify the scale of the problem faced by solitary people. “quantify the scale of the problem faced by solitary people.


(2) Create a point of contact where help and support can be accessed by and for solitary people without family.


(3) Work with the police, health services and the voluntary sector to establish clear areas of responsibility for those living alone without any form of family support.


I lobbied my contacts in my union, Unite, and the Labour Party urging them to support the motion because it was non party political and the motion was passed and became Council policy on December 10th 2020. Having this happen gave me the leverage necessary to make sure that the policy is implemented and I check in with the Strategic Director on this regularly. As a result a leaflet outlining the issues is being delivered by the council in one part of the district and more areas will follow as finances allow.


There is much work still to do with the Council and I will continue to actively encourage full implementation of the policy until all of its resolutions are implemented.


In my discussions with Iain Macbeath I told him that I was hitting a brick wall with the hospital and health authorities. As proof of ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ he put me in touch with Laura Booth, The Chief Nurse, Patient Experience and we have been working together since. She was shocked to learn of what is going on with front line staff who routinely ignore the fact that many AWOCs have no family support and discharge them without doing anything to ensure their safety. To try to overcome this she is putting together a training module for frontline staff. It is written and she is going to share with the Council. She also has their flyer. all that is left for her to do is to write a short paper to get permission to launch, which I am assured shouldn’t be a problem because AWOC is now included in the hospital's yearly work plan. Once approval has been given the education team will be asked to jazz up the presentation and work up coms for a launch, maybe 8 weeks or so away.


I have also put Laura and Kirsty from AWOC National in touch with each other and I understand that they will meet this month.


I think the secret of the successes that we have achieved lies in targeting the right people, those with the power to achieve change, ensuring that we have regular communication with them and actively encouraging them to progress the issue. I am incredibly grateful to Su Mitchell, AWOC member, Councillor Vanda Greenwood, former Councillor David Ward, Strategic Director Iain Macbeath and Chief Nurse Patient Experience, Laura Booth for taking the matter so seriously and working to achieve change.


Lynne Joyce, AWOC Bradford

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