London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Islington 1960

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Islington Borough]

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The following two cases illustrate how it was possible, with the aid of the various
services available to elderly persons to find happier solutions to the problems raised.
They are typical of the case work undertaken by the Department's Visitors on behalf of
the more difficult type of elderly persons where the Department' s assistance is requested
by relatives, neighbours, family practitioners, etc.
Mrs. G. (83 years)
Mrs. G. was an independent old lady who was first brought to the notice of the
Department by her family, who were growing increasingly concerned about her selfneglect
as tney were only permitted to provide food ana remove waste. The Old
People's Visitor made a number of calls but Mrs. G. refused offers of any further
domiciliary services. Eventually the old lady refused to allow members of the family
into her home.
Following a combined visit by several of the Department's Officers, Mrs. G. was
persuaded to allow her family to visit and also to accept the Council's home bathing
service. The Council's nurse was not only able to bathe Mrs. G. , cut and wash her hair,
but also to change clothing etc. which was laundered through the Council's Special
Mrs. C (85 years)
Mrs. C. , a sitting tenant, was brought to the notice of the Department by the
National Assistance Board, following complaints from the new owner-occupier. The
Old People's Visitor called and, after some difficulty persuaded Mrs. C. to accept
the home help service, but other offers of help were refused. Continued complaints
were received and the old lady eventually agreed to have the home bathing and
laundry services and her rooms were disinfested. Mrs. C. refused to have electricity
installed in her room, and there was a danger of her gassing herself by turning on
the gas but not being able to reach high enough to light the burner. This was remedied
by getting the burner lowered.
National Assistance Act, 1948, Section 31
' INeals-on-Wheels'' and Lunch Clubs
This Section of the Act permits Local Authorities to make contributions to the funds
of any voluntary organisation whose activities include the provision of recreation or meals
for old people. Grants were approved for ' "Meals-on-Vlheels'' services operated by the Women's
Voluntary Service and the Islington Old People's Welfare Council.

Meals supplied during the year were as follows.-

Women's Voluntary Service6,96218,033 meals cooked by NALQO, Town Hall Canteen.
Islington Old People's Welfare Council5,766
Lunch Clubs
Giffotd Hall Mission Welcome Club3,877
Caxton House Settlement1,428

A lunch club at St. Giles Christian Mission, Bride Street, N.7, also produced 2,384 meals
with the help of their own voluntary workers and Council grant-aid. Another lunch club, situated
in the Borough of Finsbury at the Claremont Central Mission, White Lion Street, has a number of
elderly diners from Islington, and receives a £50 grant from this Council towards running expenses.
It is obvious from the figures given above of the number of meals supplied to elderly persons
who would otherwise have had either no meal or a very unsatisfactory one that the meals service
is now quite extensive and useful. Nevertheless, the operation of the 'Meals-on-wheels" vans
is limited, since the number of voluntary helpers upon which the service depends to a considerable
degree is also limited and a very great burden is thrown upon those who are prepared to give up
some of their time around mid-day so that others may obtain a warm mid-day meal. The service is
also restricted by reason of the fact that it is not possible at present to provide more than two
meals per week to any one person, and new applicants can only be put on the list after a waiting