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FIOS COLUMN – 23 March 2017

We’ve had much interest in our Strategic Plan since its launch in October 2016. Strategic Planning is all about ensuring a successful future and, having identified our critical priorities, we are in a position to consider how, as a community, we address these. Everyone will know that “Elderly Care” was one of the forerunners throughout the consultation process and, since this was confirmed through the recent household survey, the Urras has been involved in various meetings and discussions in an attempt to map out the care provision in the area and get a grasp of the wider direction of travel for care delivery and the various implications.

In a word elderly care it can be summed up as “complex”. However, at the root of it all is the requirement for individuals and the community to work in partnership with others to ensure the elderly and most vulnerable members of the community receive the kind of support they need and that we would desire for ourselves and our family members. Although the elderly care environment seems like a ‘maze’, it essentially boils down to ensuring basic human dignity. We must focus on how we can best work with the local authority, WIHB and others to deliver against such an important and critical priority.

We realise that there is a very long road ahead, but we must start somewhere and will do so with some practical action. As such, we are seeking to further increase the ‘care capacity’ within this particular community. This kicks off with a recruitment drive, in partnership with “Befriending Lewis”, for volunteers to become befrienders, responding to some of the feedback the Urras has received about the loneliness and exclusion experienced by some of the elderly and most vulnerable among us. Befriending is a term used for bringing elderly or vulnerable people into contact with others. Social isolation can occur for a variety of reasons and a service such as this could ensure there are mechanisms in place to support people to have regular contact with others at whatever pace or degree they wish. Evidence from other locations shows that it’s also hugely rewarding for those acting in the role of a Befriender. I would urge anyone with any spare time to consider becoming involved in this really worthwhile initiative, which offers full support and training.

We are also working in partnership with Tighean Innse Gall and Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh to deliver a project to reduce householder’s carbon emissions which, in turn, will help reduce energy bills and tackle fuel poverty. This will be carried out through energy homes visits, providing advice to householders, which will could then lead to a referral for insulation measures or entitlement checks. A core element of the project will involve the replacement of inefficient old high wattage bulbs with more cost efficient LED Lightbulbs. It is hoped that at the same time a short screening exercise can be carried out in homes to decrease the risk in the home that contribute to trip and falls by the elderly. More detail of this project will be available very soon as we hope to launch the initiative in mid-late April.


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