'Sorry - you are too remote to be helped!'

A vulnerable elderly man living in a Norfolk hamlet was told he cannot be cared for by the authorities because his home is too remote.The claim, made by a county social worker, comes just days after Norfolk County Council faced a string of accusations about its home help service provision for the elderly.

A vulnerable elderly man living in a Norfolk hamlet was told he cannot be cared for by the authorities because his home is too remote.

The claim, made by a county social worker, comes just days after Norfolk County Council faced a string of accusations about its home help service provision for the elderly.

Concerns about elderly and vulnerable people in the county being left hungry and unwashed because of a contract shambles was reported by the EDP and prompted a public apology from senior council officials.

The latest claims focus on an anonymous elderly man aged in his 80s living alone in Hanworth, near Cromer, who was assessed by social services last year and found to need a daily lunchtime visit for a carer to heat a microwave meal and check on his welfare.


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Efforts were made by his social worker to secure visits from agency workers, but none of the agencies approached was prepared to help.

His social worker ended up

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e-mailing the Hanworth village website and said: 'No agencies will touch it as it's only a 15-minute call and it is too remote.' The social worker also asked if anyone locally could help out and provide coverage. Since then the care has been provided by a family member and a carer employed by the family.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb labelled the idea of services being made unavailable to rural users as 'shocking'.

'What we can't tolerate is someone being left without support because of their remote location,' added Mr Lamb. 'People need care and support wherever they live and this instance is a stark warning how things can go wrong.'

However, Mr Lamb said the principle of using local solutions, such as a neighbour in the village, was a good one because it would encourage reliability, relationship building and high levels of care.

A senior council official said a recent change in contracts had improved the outlook for cared-for adults and assured people nowhere in Norfolk was too remote to receive services.

The parish council in Hanworth has been pursuing the case for the past six months, but has so far only had holding answers to their letters.

Council chairman Elma Thaxton said: 'To say the village is too remote just seems so wrong. Who else is this happening to and who else will it happen to in the future?'

Fellow parish councillor Gill Wilton said: 'Are they going to cut our council taxes in recognition of the fact this service is not available to our village because it is described as too remote?

'It's unacceptable. We thought services should be provided wherever you live. That is obviously not the case when it comes to adult care. It seems as though the people who have been awarded the agency contract can pick and choose which villages they cover. The parish council feels that it is a clear case of the adult services saying - 'tough, you are too remote to be helped'.'

Harold Bodmer, director of adult social services in Norfolk, said: 'I would like to reassure people that absolutely no areas of Norfolk are too remote to receive our help.

'This year we have provided support and care to more than 40,000 people - one of the highest levels of support provided by any council in the country - many of whom live in very rural areas. And this support is being provided day-in, day-out, in every corner of the county.'

Mr Bodmer said a widespread retender of home care contracts in February had created an additional 7,090 hours a month of home care available across Norfolk and seen a strengthening of contracts so private providers must pick up work in their area, if they have spare capacity.

'Cases are always kept under review and we are glad to say that this week, thanks to the strengthened terms and conditions that our providers signed up to in February, we have been able to find suitable home care in this particular case and we are in discussions with his family to help set this up as soon as possible.

'We will continue to monitor his needs and his social worker remains in contact with his family, to ensure his needs are being met.'

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