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Age UK increases help to elderly

AGE Concern’s transformation into Age UK has led to more services for elderly people in the Maidstone borough and the expansion of existing facilities, its chairman has revealed. Patricia Thomas, in her sixth

year as chairman, discussed the challenges the group faced when changing to Age UK Maidstone, part of Age UK Eng- land, at the group’s AGM. She said: “Age Concern first started as The Old People’sWel- fare in 1957 and has since grown and grown. To begin with, it had nothing like the services we offer today.” Drop-in sessions at the Mill

Street office,where elderly peo- ple can have a coffee and a chat, will start this year and an Age UK mobile phone, pre-pro- grammed with loved ones’ numbers and easy to use, will be available soon. Mrs Thomas praised staff,

many of whom are working to- wards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). Volunteers were also praised

and Mrs Thomas said if they were paid the minimum wage they would have earned £85,000 for the work they car- ried out within the last year. The meeting, held at Tovil Masonic Centre, Courtenay Road, gave a run-down on the charity’s projects:  Computer courses: Runinthe Mill Street office, the courses teach clients basic computer skills and allow them to access the internet. There is a waiting list as the courses are so popular but 115 clients successfully completed the course within a year. Foot care: From April 2011 to March 2012, 581 clients used

the foot care service, 333 in Age UK’s clinics and 248 in their own homes. Six nurses cover the borough and a new clinic in the Mill Street building is open two to three days a week. Bathing services: Four bath nurses give 104 baths per week to 75 clients, aged 65 and over, throughout the borough. Independent living support service: Designed to help older people who wish to remain in their own homes, the ILS Serv- ice provides assistance with everyday tasks such as cleaning, laundry, bed-changing, shop-

ping, befriending and garden- ing. The service started in 2008 with four members of staff and there are now 17. Each week they work an average of 135 hours between them. ILS super- visor Lynda Vince hopes to reach 200 and 800 hours re- spectively this year. Mrs Thomas said the ISL service was “extremely successful”. Advocacy service and infor- mation and advice: Confiden- tial services that give elderly people advice on a variety of areas, such as what benefits and support they are entitled to and

Pat Thomas, Patricia Thomas, Paul Coles, Cllr Nelson-Gracie and Susan Yates at Age UKMaidstone’s annual meeting

Praise for staff and volunteers

PAUL Coles addressed the AGM for the first time as chief execu- tive and highlighted achievements of the previous year, including the purchase of new offices in Mill Street. He was particularly pleased with the charity’s disability travel voucher scheme, in partnership with Maidstone Council, which reimbursed more than £20,000 worth of vouchers, the youngest recipient being nine and the oldest 102. Development worker Katie Frogley, and the volunteer workers, drivers, escorts and day centre helpers, were all praised for help- ing Age UK Maidstone reach more than 300 people a week. Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Rodd Nelson-Gracie, said: “I don’t

thinkMaidstone could survive without the fantastic effort that all the voluntary organisations put in. Age UK Maidstone is one of the larger and more successful organisations.”

Hospital reviews antibiotic treatments as bug returns A DOWNSWOOD man born

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members. The new board ap- pointed full time infection spe- cialist Dr Sarah Mumford. The trust’s quality and safety committee was told “nursing cleaning is not acceptable”. The trust saw the single-bed

wards at thenewPembury hospi- tal as a significant aid in infection control. But hand hygiene is dif- ficult to audit in single rooms. It is asking questions if antibi-

otics are beingused appropriately (they are seen as both a cure and a cause) and also if infections are being acquired in the hospital or imported by patients, visitors etc. The trust has decided medical staff are to be “re-engaged” with further education. Dr Mumford called on the trust

to change the ways it treats some patients, especially those with chest and urinary tract infections as antibiotics can lead to a C-diff infection. A spokesman said:

“The trust expects to have fewer cases of Clostridium difficile again this year, but may not fully achieve the 20%-plus reduction that was set for 2012-13. “The trust’s target is to have no

more than 49 cases from April 1 this year to March 31 2013 – a 23% reduction on 2011/12 (64 cases). The cause of all but two of the 40 cases has been traced back to using antibiotics to treat an ex- isting illness, and C-diff infection has been caused as a conse- quence.Twocasesmayhave been caused by cross-infection. “While excellent hygiene re-

mains absolutely essential, the full force of the trust’s fight against C-diff has turned towards antibiotics both as a cause and a cure. It is using targeted antibi- otics such as vancomycin to treat known C-diff carriers, and limit- ing the use generally of other broad-spectrum antibiotics that can cause the infection.”

with a hole in the heart was found dead at his home just days after being allowed home from hospital. Gregor Stevens (36) was

found on the floor of his bed- room in Willow Rise by his mother on Boxing Day 2011. He had been due to go and

stay with his parents for the Christmas holiday, but had complained of being tired on Christmas Day and stayed at home, a Maidstone inquest heard. Mr Stevens was found to

have congenital heart disease soon after birth, but it had never caused him any prob- lems, his mother Catherine Stevens told the inquest. In 2000, he was diagnosed as suffering from ADHD and while he was at university he was diagnosed as being dys- praxic and bipolar. Although drugs used for the treatment of brain disorders

any changes in the law that might affect them or their car- ers. Last year elderly people were given support during the digital switchover, when televi- sion signals changed from ana- logue to digital. The Goodman (Dementia) Centre in Bearsted: The centre supports clients suffering from dementia and their carers, and provides respite. Clients are en- couraged to take part in a num- ber of activities, including tai chi. The centre has been spruced up with new paintings, cushions and plants and new fencing to keep the clients safe. Finances: Age UK Maidstone received a total income of £1,054,617 for the year ending in March 2012, with cash com- ing from KCC,Maidstone Coun- cil, donations, legacies and fundraising activities. The group’s consolidated funds, which are sufficient to fund ac- tivities for six months, now stand at £548,935, some of which is restricted or desig- nated to specific areas. Treas- urer Patrick Thomas said people putting pennies in the collecting tin and leaving money in their wills were vital to the group’s ability to offer and develop services. Minute taker: Susan Yates, of Loose Road, who has taken the minutes for around six years, has decided to step down and concentrate on other voluntary work. Mrs Thomas presented Mrs Yates with a leaving gift and said she did such a good job it was sometimes easy to forget she was there. See

stone or call 01622 753618 for more information.

Sudden death from heart defect

could cause sudden death, con- sultant pathologist Dr David Rouse told the inquest there was no pathologicalway of de- termining the cause and he be- lieved death was more likely due to Mr Stevens’ cardiac problems. Mr Stevens was admitted to Priority House at Maidstone Hospital on December 10, 2011, after showing signs of being agitated and disorien- tated, but by December 19, his condition had improved signif- icantly. It was agreed he could go home for Christmas, and his situation would be reviewed on December 29. However, when his parents

could not raise him on Boxing Day, they went round and found Mr Stevens dead on the bedroom floor. There were no signs of a struggle and no injuries to the body. The coroner record a verdict of death by natural causes.

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