Charles Kenyon: Home visits are vital to elderly people in the UK

The Market Rasen surgery has recruited a specialist over-75s nurse, a vital component of care for the elderly in a rural area

Hats off to the Market Rasen Surgery. It has always been staffed by specialist nurses who offer excellent advice and treatment and now, through Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group, it has recruited a specialist over-75s nurse who proactively screens patients at clinics and during home visits.

Nurse Michael Smith sees the home visit as an essential part of his service – but it is much more than putting his head round the door; he also needs a good understanding of the law in relation to housing, human rights and the statutory provision of care assistance. Over-75s in this rural area are often without transport but are fiercely independent, and some prefer to live in difficult circumstances that could be seen as excessively frugal. Without internet or phone access to support services, many older people rely on the personal touch to help them to live independently.

Smith also alerts local charities that could help. For instance, the armed forces charity SSAFA will help old soldiers, and the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network will help retired farm workers. Our own almshouse charity has started providing cleaners who are also unofficial carers.

But the frustrating thing is the lack of a hub that can assist with tasks such as helping older people to obtain new mattresses or washing machines. A hub that works with specialist nurses would be a way for third sector organisations to reach clients who might never have thought or wanted to turn to charity for help.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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