On 23rd June 2016, The Jeremy Vine Show on Radio Two covered the story of a lady who fell in her flat and was trapped for nearly a week. The 79-year-old fell in her kitchen- she was unable to get up or call for help. She tried to raise the alarm and after six days a neighbour eventually heard her banging on the wall. They called police, who forced their way into her flat and found her laying there. She managed to survive this ordeal by melting water from her freezer box to drink.
This story made our hearts melt. If we had visited her we would have worked with her to assess her risk of falls, undertaken an environmental home assessment and help put her on touch with other organisations to help her stay safe, well and independent at home. As part of our ‘Falls Prevention-Independent Living’ package, we would have worked with her to identify the telecare equipment most appropriate for her needs – for example, a falls detector or a pendant alarm.
However, the story isn’t as simple as that. A representative from Islington police force reported that the officers were upset when they found the woman, saying that they had never seen anyone in such a ‘sad state’. They reported that she was struggling for money and had very little in her flat. She only had one change of clothes, little bedding and no home comforts.
They organised an appeal to raise money and donations for the pensioner, gifting her a new TV to replace a hired one she had been paying for since 1994. This lady had no family, was not on the radar of social services and was not registered with a GP.
It is unlikely that, as this lady was isolated, that she would have looked for help or known where to look for help. So, she may never have found someone like us to help her. However, this story indicates that she did have a neighbour, so maybe we should all be aware of older more vulnerable people in our neighbourhood and equip ourselves with the ‘confidence’ to ask if they are ‘okay’ in a non-judgemental and friendly manner…
Link to the programme – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07fl2c7