So much for care in the community
12:00am Sunday 19th August 2012 in Colin Baker
My car broke down in London last week. While the recovery man was going about his oily business, we became aware of an elderly lady wandering in the middle of the road looking confused and anxious.
We approached her – and a uniform does help in these situations – and she told us that she was worried about her husband who had gone off hours earlier.
Several subsequent conversations, as she kept getting out of her parked Mercedes and telling us ever changing stories about the absent spouse prompted us to call the police, as my car was hoisted ready for its tow and we needed to be on our way.
The police call handler asked to speak to the lady who told him that she was 21.
She was at least 70 and they eventually agreed to send an officer.
Forty minutes later, she decided she needed to go to the loo and set off to look for one. The AA man continued to wait for the police and I accompanied her.
As luck would have it, we met up with two police officers on patrol and I explained and handed her over to them.
About to depart, we noticed a smart, suited man in his 70’s looking anxiously up and down the street.
Yes, he was the husband. She was suffering from dementia, he told us.
He had left her in the car with strict instructions to stay where she was, ‘a mere two hours earlier’.
He seemed oblivious to our slack-jawed disbelief, as he hastened off to join the officers and his poor wife round the corner.
We then noticed the disabled sticker on the car. She was clearly his validation for a couple of hours parking in London, while he went to a meeting.
An acquaintance of mine recently found a distressed and confused elderly lady in similar circumstances in Birmingham and took her to the address where she said she lived, only to find derelict land.
Her subsequent anxiety and increased confusion led him to drive her to a police station, only to be told she wasn’t their problem, he should try the local authority.
Having already exposed himself to risk by helping in the first place, he replied with understandable asperity that it now was their problem and left the police station.
So much for ‘Care in the Community.’