Spring is nearing. The first signs of new growth are sprouting. Snowdrops and crocus are colouring banks and gardens and the stirrings of hope for brighter days begin.
Fresh Start is feeling those same stirrings, of hope, excitement, and determination, that things are beginning. Being part of the Robert Owen Group has been a growth point for us and has taught us that new growth can offer hope for brighter days to come.
This winter has been a difficult one for many families. It has been sad to hear of the stories around the cost-of-living crisis and to watch as our own health service begins to deteriorate under the winter pressures. Reading the news headlines has been particularly hard, as I am in the centre of the issues which the NHS are presented with.
The NHS, a much respected and much sought after service, needs our help.
Herefordshire is a city with an ageing population. We need care companies, hospital beds and rehabilitation services. It is difficult to see how the city can provide all of this with the financial constraints, the staffing crisis, and the lack of support from government, who state, ‘there is no money available`. Hereford Hospital also serves a wide area, Powys, Shropshire, Worcestershire, and Gloucestershire, as well as Hereford itself. New ways, innovation and creation must take place.
Both Fresh Start and the Robert Owen Group have been concerned at the headlines around the care of the elderly and how it is falling below what we expect or not being given at all. We have all seen the horrendous and at times harrowing headlines around this. We have heard the political parties throwing accusations at each other and have seen the results on the news of the events which can lead to a high mortality rate due to a lack of beds in our hospitals. We have heard the words ‘bed blocking`, ‘not enough resources`, ‘staffing crisis`.
At the Robert Owen lecture last year, I spoke about our communities, how I had identified Pillars around which we would need to work for each one of them. Health and well-being had a heading all its own. Within this heading I had identified that there was a need for elderly care and a more targeted approach to delivering amenities for these men and women, to lead more fulfilling lives, with choices and support for the things that they required.
Over the last few months as part of the Robert Owen Group, it has been discussed how we are going to deliver for these people. Regeneration of services was identified. We discussed how we are going to ensure that those people could access the care they needed and at the time that it was required. This is where the new beginnings start.
Identifying the need for care services, we set about how we would create our own.
This has been a process of research and we have identified the causes and constraints on care and the need for improving the way care is offered. We have also identified how care could be delivered and how it could be used to provide more services for our elderly. We have used the co-operative model and have created RODS.
RODS is the Robert Owen Domiciliary Service and has now been registered as a not for profit, co-operative company limited by guarantee. It will offer care services to our elderly in the Marches and surrounding areas. For the first two years this is what we will concentrate on. We will build up the company and will employ care practitioners to deliver the care, concentrating on it being person centred. Not only will the care be person centred but being a co-operative means that those who use or work in the service, get the chance through membership to develop the company to ensure the future of our elderly is secure and that there are no constraints on age or illness. We aim to offer what our elderly community require. In doing this, it also opens out more opportunities for other parts of our communities. Training, jobs, and regeneration will all be part of this new vision of care.
So, for now, the introduction of RODS has been made. These new beginnings are the start of the spring that will bring about new hope, innovation and new futures for our elderly and communities. This is, just the beginning.
Written by Amelia Washbourne
Director of the Robert Owen Society