No place like home
WHEN your mind is as sharp as a pin but your body is failing, losing your independence becomes a harsh reality. LESLEY INNES finds out more about a new scheme being launched in Soham, which could give dozens of elderly people the chance to stay in their o
WHEN your mind is as sharp as a pin but your body is failing, losing your independence becomes a harsh reality. LESLEY INNES finds out more about a new scheme being launched in Soham, which could give dozens of elderly people the chance to stay in their own homes, safe in the knowledge that help is at hand.
SOHAM volunteers have teamed up with the town's Viva Arts and Community Group to launch a new independent mobile warden service.
The scheme, which will begin this summer, is designed to offer help from Monday till Friday to the town's elderly who live in their own homes.
People can sign up as long-term members or join temporarily, perhaps when family and friends are away or after a hospital stay.
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The warden could also help out with prescription collection, emergency shopping and other small tasks.
Deniva, the local voluntary support group, which will run the scheme under the governance of the Viva Arts and Community Group, is hoping to recruit the warden within the next few weeks so the service can launch in August.
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"This launch is great news for Soham," said Helen Randall, Care Network's East Cambridgeshire development officer, who is helping to establish the new service.
"We want to spread the news to everyone who could benefit from this support, reassurance and the chance to catch up on Soham life.
"The committee is very enthusiastic and knows the Soham community well. Care Network has been helping the committee and Viva to set up the service to model standards and obtain grant funding for it."
Committee chairman George Ginn had no hesitation in volunteering for the new committee and, since retiring, has helped out with gardening for the elderly.
He said: "When the idea was mentioned I realised I knew a few people who could benefit.
"There is one partially-sighted lady who moved out of her sheltered accommodation to a mobile home.
"Now she pays a taxi driver to fetch her pension and prescriptions. These are the sort of jobs the warden could do."
Retired GP Dorothy Frost has also joined the committee and believes the mobile warden scheme will be good for people who don't want to go into a residential home or sheltered accommodation.
"This is a back-up service," she said. "A lot of people are very independent but they just need a helping hand. They may need the collection of a prescription or just a friendly face to keep them up-to-date with the gossip in Soham.
"The temporary service means that if a relative or friend wants to go away they can be confident there will be someone in touch.
"We will run the service on a fairly low key basis to start with. If the demand increases we may recruit a second mobile warden and perhaps organise a job share."
The warden will cover initially for about three hours each day during the week and be available out-of-hours on an emergency telephone number.
But elderly people will be expected to use their personal alarm systems to summon emergency help at night and weekends with the warden providing back-up as a key holder or for other support.
Soham resident, Carol Mason, a volunteer at the Soham Day Centre, who cares for her 92-year-old mother, believes the scheme is an excellent idea.
Her mother lived two doors away until just over two years ago when she moved in with Carol and her husband.
"She had had a couple of falls and was losing her confidence," said Carol. "Now her confidence has soared.
"A lot of elderly people suffer from a lack of confidence and they need the reassurance that there is someone they can call or who will be visiting.
"In the past families lived in the same village but now the world is not such an insular society. This scheme means people can remain independent knowing that someone will call for back-up and reassurance."
The scheme costs £10 for annual membership and £2.50 a week for full-time members or £7.50 a week for people requiring short-term help.
INFO: Anyone wanting more information can contact the Viva Centre on 01353 722228 or call in at 7 Churchgate Street, Soham. If required, one of the Deniva committee members can visit and explain how the new service will work.