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January 11, 2008

Govt rejects anger over dead man unnoticed for 1yr.

A neighbour called the police "concerned because the man's letterbox was overflowing"

The man was a public housing tenant.

Neighbours are angry because the NSW Housing Department didn't check up on the man. Apparently the department had promised to check up on tenants every six months after three other elderly public housing tenants had died unnoticed in 2006.

It's no surprise that elderly people reduced to public housing don't get regular visits from family, friends and neighbours. The foreseeable consequence is that people will die on their own and sometimes it will take a while for anyone to notice.

Without any other details available, let's assume these are pensioners whose payments are conveniently deposited into accounts somewhere in the enormous banking industry. Nobody would notice small sums accumulating. We can also assume that rent is automatically deducted and deposited wherever public housing rental payments go. Nobody notices regular payments.

After a few months, let alone a year, the junk mail alone would fill a wheelie bin. But let's assume polite neighbours don't like to directly approach one another about aesthetic misdemeanours or clear one another's letterboxes without permission.

Neighbours and the opposition are cranky because the housing department should routinely check its tenants. The minister quite rightly points out that tenants are entitled to privacy. If they don't respond to a phone call, letter or note left under the door, that's their business.

Isn't this what we wanted? We don't have to take care of our elderly, we have convenient money transfer systems, neighbours don't interfere, we have public housing and we have privacy. And when something goes wrong we have governments we can hold responsible.

| Posted by Lyn at 12:09 PM | | Comments (5)
Comments

Comments

Lyn,
In a local gov. area adjacent to me a group has organised a volunteer phone around service. Every morning they give an oldy a ring a bit of a chat and move on if all is well. The roster is changed regularly to avoid unwanted enduring linkages on both sides. Last I heard it was a great success. The trouble is most of the participants probably need a phone call themselves!

Only joking. But volunteers are in short supply and it takes someone with skill to get things off the ground. Local Gov. Councils could be encouraged to take an initiative though.

Len,
Here is a free program that you and others may enjoy.

http://iespell.com/

Lyn,
this scheme has merit. In the Telecross service, Red Cross volunteers each day phone 5000 elderly or incapacitated people who live alone. If they do not answer they phone a nominated family member or friend.

It seems similar to the one Len mentioned above.

Les,
Thanks for that. A very useful addition.

I've also heard of schemes involving intranet set ups that can work quite well. The less mobile can stay in touch with others in the neighbourhood without being stuck with the closest ones, who they might not necessarily like.

I can't remember where I read this, but a pilot study anticipated the problem would be getting people to use the technology. Instead they found that people wanted the technology to do more than it did at the time (the days of green letters marching across a black screen Matrix style). They wanted it to let them play Scrabble and swap photos. We seem to overestimate some people and underestimate others.