Sunday, 2 October 2011

Falls, Man Flu, and Talking with Psychologists

Two of my relatives fell over last week and injured themselves – one is 84 and the other 4 – and neither could account for themselves or why they had fallen over. Thankfully apart from some bruising, grazes and possibly hurt pride, no serious injury resulted from the fall. My relatives are not alone. In a report published by the NHS Information Centre last Thursday, it was reported that 20,800 hospital admissions in England over the last 12 months have been for people having a fall involving a bed, 12,000 admissions were for people who had falls involving chairs; 6,400 admissions for people falling from ladders; 1,200 admissions for people falling out of trees; and 170 admissions for people falling from cliffs.

Today sees the start of the Conservative Party Conference (held in Manchester). Given the Government statistics about falls, and the somewhat risk adverse society we have become, I would not be surprised to see calls from the conference floor for legislation that saw people being advised to sleep on the floor, all trees other than bonsai trees to be cut down, all chairs to be fitted with three point safety harnesses, ladders to be no taller than one metre, and all cliffs to be fenced off.

On top of having to deal with these risks to our health and well being, we have had an unprecedented heat wave to contend with in the UK this week. Not that I have noticed. Following my trip to Lithuania, I went down with a cold and cough and have been enduring high temperatures all week.

Monday I was at the University of Cumbria first thing, and this was for a meeting at the Lancaster Campus. It was the first time I had visited this campus. For those of you who have not been there the campus is made up of a collection (yes that is the correct word) of some very different (and again that is the correct word) buildings, in terms of styles, ages and architecture. The meeting was of the Council of Deans North West.

Sadly, the solidarity that had been evident throughout the last year across the group representing the 11 Universities in the North West, and which had provided us with so much influence at a regional and national level was challenged by the actions of one University seeking to unilaterally exploit a business opportunity that we had collectively been working on for the last few months. In 1850, one Frank Edward Smedley from Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire, UK said that that all is fair in love and war and maybe, just maybe, it is also true for business relationships too.

And relationships, as I have said many, many times are all important. Last week saw the publication of the Personal Social Services Adult Social Care Survey. This User Experience survey is an annual survey that seeks to gain an understanding of service users' views about the care they have received rather than simply measuring the quantity of care provided. The survey aimed to learn more about whether or not the range of social services provided are helping individuals to live safely and independently in their own home and what was the impact on their quality of life. Some 61,000 people took part in the survey and of these:

62% said that they were extremely or very satisfied with the care and support they received, but only 42% said they had as much social contact as they want with people they like, and only 57% of those asked said the way they were helped and treated made them think and feel better about themselves. So maybe there is some way to go yet!

And for me, last week was equally full of such contrasting experiences: the best meal eaten was that taken with my Head of School colleagues at the Café Istanbul, the worst moment was opening up my email after a 3 hour meeting to find I had hundreds of new emails, the longest phone call was with a colleague in Australia, the best cup of coffee nearly drunk was at Wednesday's catch up meeting, and the most relaxing walk, was with Cello, early Saturday morning, up to High Rid, and finally, the most unexpected but welcome conversation this week, was with my favourite psychologist of all time, standing at the top of the stairs in Allerton late on a very hot Friday afternoon.