Cloud surfing – The Cape of Good Hope

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue.   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to South Africa.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer who lives in Alaska.  Her blog is called Gullible’s Travels and her name is Jeanne Waite Follett.  My thanks to her for sharing her excellent travel stories.



The photograph below is of Hout Bay, just outside of Cape Town in South Africa.

This is the start of a cruise to Seal Island and if you follow the link below, you can see some excellent photos of the seals and other wildlife that the first explorers must have seen when they rounded the Cape of Good Hope.

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.


Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 2 Comments

Care Home Time Bomb!

The title of this blog is taken from the front page headlines of the Daily Express on Tuesday 5th June 2018.   It’s a report from an investigation carried out by the GMB Union which investigated the level of arrears of older people living in residential care.   The figures are quite startling:-

  • 160,000 pensioners and disabled people are in debt as they cannot afford to pay residential care bills;
  • Nearly 1200 people have been taken to court by Social Services because of social care debts;
  • 78,000 have debt management procedures started against them for non-payment of charges.

If this is the situation, and it may be understated because not all Local Authorities responded to requests for information, it is certainly very concerning.

But I am puzzled ????????

If people have no assets, I thought the Local Authority was required to pick up the bill.  Alternatively if they owned a house, the Local Authority should pay the bill and take out a charge on the property which would be redeemed when the house was sold.   So why would Local Authorities be taking people to court for non-payment of fees ?

I must be missing something ????????

Successive Governments have confused the picture by continually reassuring older people and their families that they do not have to sell their house if they move into residential care.   Of course that’s understandable if there’s a spouse continuing to live in the house, but otherwise, what reason is there for not selling your house if you move into residential care?

Another explanation  for being in arrears is that many residential care homes now charge higher rates to individuals than the fees they agree with Social Services.   At one time, top up fees were not allowed but now it seems they are an everyday occurrence.   Therefore it’s quite possible that arrears might accrue from higher charges than Social Services deem eligible.   But in this case, I would assume the home owners would be the people taking court action.

The article does not delve into the issue more deeply to examine exactly why the debts arise.   But, with care home fees being as high as a £1000 a week and 160,000 people being in arrears and generally court action not taken for some time after people have gone into arrears, you could imagine that the overall debt must be COLOSSAL.

If each person was just £1,000 in arrears, that suggests there could be as much as £160 million owed by residents.  That can’t be right ????


Posted in Residential Care | 1 Comment

Treat older people like rubbish

My post last week talked about the Daily Mail’s latest campaign to get people to clean up plastic rubbish.   Now my local council in Daventry has just introduced a new system for rubbish collection designed to recycle just about everything and save the world.   In the meantime, the County Council – Northamptonshire, has just about gone bankrupt, supposedly because of the rising costs of social care for older people and children.

I’ve got a suggestion for them.   They could learn a lot about what to do with older people from the care and attention they have paid to introducing the new systems for rubbish collection:-

  • The rubbish collections are still going to be done every week – how about if they called in on older people while they’re at it?
  • The rubbish is going to be sorted tidily into separate boxes – what about clearly defining the needs of older people in the same way?
  • The rubbish should be cleaned thoroughly before throwing it away – how about thoroughly looking after old people’s needs with the same attention?
  • Finally, the rubbish is sorted into separate bins – what if having defined older people’s needs they then provided specialist support like homecare, meals on wheels, residential care and nursing care to those who need it?
  • If you don’t comply with the council’s procedures for rubbish, you may well be fined – how about if the council were fined every time they don’t provide for older people’s needs?

If older people were treated with the same time and attention that local and central Government expected us to treat our rubbish, then maybe the system of social care could be reformed with the same energy and concern that is shown for plastic bags!

Posted in GRUMBLES | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Plastic before older people

Ever since David Attenborough’s excellent TV series “Blue Planet”, there has been a rage of concern about plastic.   Plastic bags have been almost outlawed, or at least charged for.  You almost get arrested if you throw away any plastic litter.   Refuse disposal now requires you to separate all your rubbish into separate bins, including one for plastic recycling.  Plastic seems to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue these days.

In the last few weeks, the Daily Mail has been championing its own campaign to clean up plastic litter and they started it with a headline “the river of plastic that shames Britain” (Monday, 7th May 2018).   It seems like the Daily Mail’s editors either have short memories or a limited number of headlines they can use.   It was only a few years ago that it was neglect of the elderly that shames Britain, and the Daily Mail championed that cause under the banner of “Dignity for the Elderly”.   That issue concerned the poor care of elderly people in the NHS and pointed out the high levels of dehydration and malnutrition of older people on hospital wards.   That was 8 years ago (you can see my earlier posts on this subject by clicking on “Dignity for Elderly” and “Neglect Shames Britain” in the TAG CLOUD).

Sad to say, in spite of the Daily Mail’s year-long campaign, nothing much seems to have changed, other than that the subject has disappeared from the headlines.    It seems that concern about older people’s welfare is now rather less important than “keeping Britain tidy”.   Maybe we will be throwing older people on the rubbish tip next!

It’s a poor indictment of our nation’s sense of priorities and says little of the effectiveness of newspaper campaigns to change things.

Posted in GRUMBLES | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Cloud Surfing in Kentucky

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue.   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing.   

Courtesy of Blogger and Photographer, Barbara Judge and her excellent blog called Folkways Notebook.   Barbara has taken some interesting trips around America and the first one that caught my eye, I have referred below.




Today I took a trip to the Appalachian Mountains in the USA.  In particular, I landed in Madison County, Kentucky and came across Miss Ida Green, a remarkable 82 year old lady who owns and runs a country grocery store.

You can find the full story and photographs by clicking on the following link:


In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 3 Comments

Bold NHS Chief Executive ?

The Government is shortly supposed to be coming up with a Green Paper on Social Care.  The aim of the paper is to resolve the current and future funding crisis in Social Care related to the ever-growing numbers of older people.  This is a recurring issue which politicians regularly approach and then back away from.  It constantly gets put in the “too difficult” box.  For now Brexit has absorbed most of the headlines and the politicians’ attention.  But the issue of older peoples’ care just won’t go away.

I have been writing about it ever since I started this blog.  You can see many of my earlier posts by clicking on “CARE FUNDING” in the TOPICS list.

Now at least the penny seems to have dropped with somebody with a louder voice than mine.  Mr Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England, raised a radical proposal with the House of Commons Select Committee on Long Term Funding of Adult Social Care.  His proposal was that we should tax the homes of elderly people to fund the growing social care bill.  This is something that I have long advocated.

The context of Mr Stevens’ evidence to the Committee was that there was large scale bed blocking in the NHS.  Around 18,000 people have been stuck in hospital for 21 days or more.   This amount to 1 in 5 of all NHS beds or the equivalent of taking 36 hospitals out of action.

The elderly will never vote for this and since many of them are Conservative voters, neither will the Tory party propose it.  On the other hand, if the Labour party gets into power, I doubt they would have the courage to adopt such a radical proposal.  Therefore we are left with a political stalemate.

Posted in Care Funding, N.H.S. | 3 Comments

Cloud surfing to the SUN !

It’s another wet and windy day on Earth.  Not at all like May is supposed to be in Kilsby.   So I decided to go a bit closer to the sun and joined the NASA Parker Solar Probe.

Goodness knows how I got here, but I ended up inside the high security environment of the NASA Space Mission.   I think I am going to become an astrophysicist 😀.    This is what you get from aimlessly surfing around in the clouds.











As long as the weather gets better, I am due to take off from the Florida launch pad sometime between July and August.  It seems like NASA time tables are a bit like Network Rail.    The journey will take six years, which is about as long as it takes to get to Birmingham on the new high-speed trains.   It seems like HS2 is just another politician’s ego trip.

We pass Venus in 2020 although we are not stopping.  Later we shoot by Mercury at around 430,000 miles per hour.    That’s fast enough to get you from New York to Tokyo in less than a minute.   Certainly makes you wonder why Network Rail is building a high-speed train that will still take nearly an hour to get from Birmingham to London.

Of course it will be a lot hotter, the latest weather forecast for the sun says that it will be more than 1,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit.   I am assured we will be protected by four and a half inches of carbon composite shield and that the temperature inside the probe will be more or less room temperature.   So that should be alright then😩

Just a short flight of fancy on a cold, wet, windy day.

If you would like to see more about my celestial travels, follow the link below.

It does leave me with a few questions:-

  • How much is the Solar Probe Mission costing?  The answer must be in billions of dollars.
  • Who on earth agreed to spend this money?  It seems like NASA is a runaway rocket.
  • Mr Parker, the astrophysicist, had a load of theories about the sun and this mission is to find out whether his theories are correct.  It sounds like an American ego trip to me and I would be inclined to ask whether the money could be better spent on other things.
Posted in SMILES | Tagged | 3 Comments