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

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Willesden 1960

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Willesden]

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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
same day.
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.

No. of old people using the laundry service

On register 1 . 1 . 60New casesDiedAdmitted to hospitalRecommenced after discharge from hospitalDiscontinuedOn register 31 .12.60
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Voluntary Services for the Aged
The '49' Club organised by the Willesden Old Folks Association celebrated its eighth anniversary
in February. The Club has a membership of more than 450, and is open daily from 1.30 to 10.0 p.m.
Several firms gave donations to the Association's funds and additional money was raised by a flag day.
Two hundred members and helpers went for a day trip to Clacton in July. Voluntary visitors visited
25 old people weekly or fortnightly. Lonely housebound old people greatly appreciate the services which
include shopping, reading, general conversation, and tidying the room. At Christmas, the visitors took 5/each
to 64 old people and a Christmas dinner from the Association to 44; the Willesden Youth Committee
and the Stonebridge Mothers' Club contributed towards the cost of the dinners.
Forty-two parcels of imperishable foods were made up from 252 articles of food given by the
children of Malorees School after Harvest Thanksgiving and distributed to the housebound. Woollen socks
and a bed-jacket were bought with a gift of 30/- from the children of one of the classes of Salusbury Road
School, and given to a housebound old lady aged 102 years.
A very successful Christmas party was held at Anson Hall, Cricklewood; 262 people attended and
were given a high tea, an entertainment, and 2/-.
The chiropody service is in great demand. 462 people attended the four chiropodists in Kilburn,
Harlesden, Kensal Rise and Willesden Green areas for periodic treatment during the year. New applicants
receive initial treatment and are then placed on the register for periodic visits. In addition, 300 housebound
people had treatment in their own homes. Until 1st April, 1960, a charge of 2/- was made for treatment
and the Association paid 4/6d., the balance of the charge.
From 1st April, 1960, the Middlesex County Council have been responsible for the chiropody
service for the aged, under section 28 of the National Health Service Act, 1947. The Willesden Old Folks'
Association acts as an agent for the County and arranges for the old people to have treatment. The four
private chiropodists who have worked for the Association for a number of years still carry out treatment in
their own surgeries. When the County Council appoint their own chiropodists, treatment will be carried out
at the clinics.

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