Do we live in a world that values working people over all others? A couple of things that have happened over the past five days prompt the question.
Last Wednesday morning on my way out to work my PA discovered a fault with the wheelchair. On inspecting the machine we discovered that a plastic piece connected to the cross braces of the chair, which help locate and keep in place the seat runners was broken.
Unable to fix the equipment ourselves I phoned the wheelchair service; on explaining my plight, I was told the maintenance operative would call around in the afternoon of the following day. Of course, this was unsatisfactory; and I explained to that I was due into work today and couldn't just take time off.
The wheelchair centre worker said she'd hang up and try to get me a more favourable appointment. Two minutes later she offered an afternoon slot that day. Again I protested that I needed to get to work. To cut the story short, a wheelchair maintenance operative turned up 10-mimutes later.
Examining the chair he removed the broken element, assured me it was ok to use, providing I tweaked this, and pushed that; and he'd contact me once he was in possession of the replacement part.
Overjoyed I thanked him for his promptness; and called the centre to thank the operator there for stressing the urgency of my case.
My mother is 88 and is no longer an active participant in the workplace; and why should she be when she spent sixty-odd years in either paid employment or bringing up a family or looking after her sick husband.
Mum recently suffered a scratch to her shin, caused by an excitable West Highland Terrier going by the name of LuLu, which became infected. The Edenbridge Cottage Hospital tended to the wound; and whilst in Kent sent a district nurse to where my mum was staying to re-dress the wound.
On returning to home, London, mum still needed the dressings changed; and was put under the local district nurse. Last week the nurse didn't turn up on the appointed day; and on enquiring my mum was assured that the nurse would visit her (no day mentioned) and not to worry.
At 88 simple wounds take their time to mend; and so another week is reached and the injury persists. This time my mum has been told the nurse will visit her on Monday or Tuesday.
Ok, my mum is 88; and she's disabled. However, she didn't reach this great age by sitting around and doing nothing. No, she has reached her ninth decade by a combination of hard work and healthy activity. Today for instance she fancied going to the park with one of my sisters; and tomorrow I'd offered to take her down to the Thames Embankment, weather permitting, for a stroll and lunch.
It would seem that my mother's time is of no value; that she is expected to sit and wait for treatment, not a few hours, but a couple of days at a time.
People in the medical field are constantly telling us of the importance of exercise; unfailingly we're encouraged to get out and about, to meet with other people, not to spend our lives cooped up in our homes living like couch potatoes. Yet, when people like my mum try to live this life they're stymied by restrictive practices of local health authorities.
Yes, of course district nurses have priorities. But, to expect people to have to wait two days for a medical procedure such as changing a dressing is I feel quite unacceptable. Just because someone has reached a certain age does not mean they should be compelled to put their lives on hold.