Tuesday, 5th March, 2024

[Day 1450]

Today being a Tuesday, we swing into our Tuesday routines which will turn out to be coffee with the Waitrose friends at about 10.30am followed by my Pilates session in the middle of the day. I got myself showered and then Meg’s carers did their bit to get Meg washed and dressed. One of the carers in particular is pressing that I ask for extra equipment to help Meg (and them) in their tasks. She is arguing along the lines that her grandmother had greater levels of mobility than Meg is exhibiting at the moment so we should press for a stairlift and other quite expensive mobility aids. But more of this later. After we had breakfasted, I got Meg ready to meet with our coffee bar friends and whilst the youngest one was busy playing bowls, we met with our other two regulars. Our friend who was a keen fell-walker has lost her husband (who was quite a lot older than her) to dementia and the funeral was held about a fortnight ago. Since then, she has busy with the things that are consequence of the death of a partner, such as the adjustment to joint bank account details. She was telling me of a government website called ‘TellMeOnce’ which, in theory, is a portal in which you communicate a person’s death to the portal which is then meant meant to inform all other relevant government departments. But I think she had run foul of one agency, probably I think the Benefits Agency, who when asked to cease the payments of one particular benefit, then required the completion of an eight page form including such details as the bank account details of any executors (presumably to pay any monies due into their bank accounts) Our friend had quite a row with them, refused to fill in the form and slammed down the phone. I am sure there there must be a simpler and easier way of dealing with this particular benefit but this is bureaucracy running mad for you. Before I left for my Pilates, I had a couple of welcome telephone calls from a nurse who works in the ‘Falls’ team and is part of the Occupational Therapy service. I had telephoned her yesterday to thank her for the piece of kit which she left with us on Friday which is helping to transport Meg around the house. She returned my message today, as she was out of the office yesterday, and said that she would see what she do about my request for a second and parallel piece of kit which would be used exclusively upstairs. A second phone call informed me that would manage to get the second piece of kit round to me some time in the afternoon. In addition, she was going to set up a visit in which she would call round with another OT/physiotherapist colleague to see how Meg was able to cope with stairs and how she managed the journeys she made (one at the start of the day when she comes downstairs and one at the end of the day when I get her off to bed) I must say I am delighted with the rapid and timely response of the team but I think that as Meg falls about once a day she is just an accident waiting to happen and we want to avoid these unpleasant possibilities. This is not just an idle speculation. One of my life-long friends who was both my art master, music teacher, dormitory supervisor at boarding school and boy scout troop leader (I knew him in several roles) would send us a Christmas card and verses of his composition every year without fail. When one did not arrive a year or so back, I sent another urgent letter which eventually passed into the hands of his daughter. She informed me that her father had fallen down the stairs of the cottage in which he lived in Northern France as a result of which he suffered a massive brain haemorrhage from which he died within the day. So potential falls down the stairs of a house are to be taken very seriously and evidently everyone concerned with Meg’s care is going to try to ensure that this does not happen to her.

It is budget day tomorrow and the media are their normal feeding frenzy in the day or so preceding it trying to ascertain what tax cuts are to be implemented in this most strange of years when the country cannot afford anything but it is going to be an election year, probably in October/November. There used to be a time when the Chancellor ‘went into purdah’ communicating with not a soul until he could announce good news in his budget statement that would be treated with wild applause on his own side of the house. Budget leaks used to be treated with the utmost seriousness, requiring ministerial resignations in the past. But we have had a ‘pre announcement’ (or is it a government leak of its own Budget) that there will be a cut of 2p in the rate of National Insurance contributions. This announcement, though, has a degree of political thought behind it. Firstly, a 2p cut in National Insurance will not benefit the extremely wealthy, nor the pensioners who do not pay NI contributions. But pensioners do not need any more largesse to be handed out to them as they benefit from the ‘triple lock’ policy in the first place whilst the extremely wealthy do not need a tax cut and will vote Tory anyway. So a cut in NI insurance contributions benfits those still at work who may be persuaded that the Tories may be worthy of some support after all. So there is quite a lot crude political calculation at work here.