ADASS President urges care staff in winter emergencies 'to maintain vigilance'

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Tuesday 7th December 2010
Embargo: Immediate

ADASS President Richard Jones has paid tribute to the `incredibly hard work, often way beyond the call of duty carried out by social care staff during the current weather crisis.

Although no formal state of emergency was declared, Departments of Adult Social Services have been well aware of the desperate plight many older and/or vulnerable people might find themselves in during these critical time. In all cases, Jones said, they will have planned for the worst and delivered their best.

Causes of anxiety during periods of severe weather include:

  • The difficulties care workers from both health and local authorities have reaching the homes of vulnerable people,
  • The problems some care staff, both home based and care home based might have in getting to the work place themselves,
  • These might be compounded by unavoidable school closures meaning workers who are parents will have to juggle care for their own children with their duties to vulnerable adults,
  • The dangers of reduced or cut power supplies,
  • The fears some elderly people might have of increasing the use of gas/electricity for fear of mounting bills,
  • The difficulties for meals-on-wheels services carrying vital food supplies to the housebound being unable to access their destinations,

Richard Jones added: For the past two weeks many parts of the country have experienced some of the worst winter weather we have experienced for decades. And there is precious little sign of any let up over the coming holiday period.

We have had reports from all over England of some of the most heroic efforts made by care staff and in many cases members of their families who have selflessly driven out to inaccessible villages or homes, often in their own 4x4 transport, in order to make sure that vulnerable people have been protected.

Weve heard from Worcestershire, of care workers getting to where the gritters couldnt grit; from Calderdale where community networks were mobilised to ensure an eye was kept on older people; and in Leeds the excellent new meals-at-home service, where meals are freshly cooked in the vans on the way to residents homes, pulled out all the stops to make sure that meals were delivered. Meanwhile, in Cumbria an excellent example of interagency cooperation saw firefighters delivering essential supplies in their 4x4s.

He went on: "similar reports to these from around the country Surrey and Kent, the North East, East Anglia and the Midlands have shown again how extraordinary times can stimulate ordinary people to make extraordinary efforts on behalf of their neighbours and communities. And he particularly praised councillors who have been active in preparing communities and individuals for the worst, and for voluntary and independent organisations `who have helped us all so much.

He ended by warning colleagues and citizens everywhere that the crisis is far from over. In some areas councils have contacted everyone who uses their services to make sure they are well cared for. This is a continuing drama in many parts of the country, and I urge care staff everywhere to maintain the same high level of vigilance throughout the coming weeks, he said.

For further information contact:
Richard Jones, ADASS President, 01772 534390
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.