Most old people are living alone but they can manage to look after themselves in spite of their
deficiencies in money, suitable living accommodation and general amenities. Some require help to keep
them comfortable and happy in their own homes, while a small minority cannot be adequately cared for
except in a hospital or old people's home. The local health authority provides home nurses, home helps,
and health visitors, who investigate the needs of the old people and arrange for the necessary services to be
Generally speaking, it is now easier to obtain admission for an aged patient, and the Geriatric
Physician and his almoner work in close co-operation with the local health and district authorities. However,
there is still a great need for more hospital accommodation.
Compulsory powers for removing old people to a hospital or hostel are only used when absolutely
necessary and then only after all other possibilities have been fully explored.
One case was removed under the National Assistance Acts, 1948 and 1951. Mr. E. J. L., aged 77
years and partially-sighted, lived alone in a dingy first floor flat. He was suffering from hypertension, uraemia,
varicose ulcers, oedema of the legs and delusions.
On the day of his removal, he was found lying on the floor of the bedroom and refused to be helped
into bed. He was incapable of looking after himself, and was not receiving proper care and attention. He
also refused to go into hospital and an Order under the National Assistance (Amendment) Act, 1951, was
obtained from a Justice of the Peace on the 1st December. Mr. L. was admitted to Neasden Hospital the
It was not necessary to apply for an extension of the Order as he was too ill to discharge himself
at the end of 21 days.
Laundry for the Aged
The care of incontinent old people places a heavy burden on their relatives. The washing of soiled
bed linen and night clothes, particularly in cramped accommodation in winter, with inadequate facilities for
drying, adds another intolerable strain on relatives which finally convinces them that the only place where the
old people can receive reasonable care is in an institution. One way of postponing this unpopular event is
to do their laundry.
In April, 1952, the Council organised a laundry service for incontinent old people free of charge
under Section 84 of the Public Health Act, 1936. The articles are laundered and ironed at a cost of 4¼d.
per lb. at the Neasden Hospital by arrangement with the Central Middlesex Group Hospital Management
Committee, and transport is provided by the Borough Council.
The service has continued to be greatly appreciated by old people and their relatives.