In Richard’s words…
Mum is slightly blind and quite deaf. She had to have a fire alarm connected direct to the fire station, because she would put things on the cooker and then wander off, so quite often she’d set things on fire.
She’s also got a panic button to wear round her neck. When she pushes it, they’d phone her up. That’s all very well if she’s got her hearing aid in, but if she hasn’t, the phone can ring as loud as it likes and she won’t have a clue. So the social services put in a box – a speaker in the living room so they could talk directly to her if the alarm goes off. But that’s in the living room, and she doesn’t hear it if she’s in the kitchen or upstairs. More often than not, she doesn’t hear it, so they have to send someone out to check she is OK.
They had 21 calls one night. And after that, they started ringing me up, saying: ‘Your mother’s got a problem, can you nip round?’ But I’m 200 miles away!
When I was there one Saturday, they rang up and said she’d pressed the panic button. But she’d done it by accident, maybe leaning on something or just fiddling with it. Apparently that happens a couple of times a month. I sometimes wonder if she does it on purpose because she gets lonely and she wants to see somebody.
She was also walking around the house at night. She’d get put to bed by her carers, and as soon as they’d gone she’d get up and wander around or go to the loo. She might get out of bed three or four times a night. She goes to the toilet and falls asleep on it. Or she’d got to the kitchen and couldn’t remember where her bedroom was, so she just lay down and went to sleep on the floor.
So social services put a pressure sensor on the bed. It’s timed so when she gets out of bed it switches on and if she’s not back by a certain time it sets off the alarm. At first it was set for 15 minutes, but she was never back by then. Then they changed it to 30 minutes and now it’s 45 minutes. It’s been really useful because they know when she’s got out of bed and not got back in.
The social services give us the equipment but we have to pay rent for it and we pay per call out.
Helpful safeguarding to make her feel safe
Social services give us the equipment, but we have to pay rent for it and we pay per call out. Every time they ring you, you get charged and you have to pay if they go round. But it’s better than not having that security, isn’t it? She likes having it and the button round her neck helps her feel safe. So that’s good.”