Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes

I took these pictures because I liked the patterns that the footprints made but as has often been the casein this blog they tie in well to the day’s theme and set the title for me.  I am well known for trying on other people’s shoes – not literally but metaphorically – in an attempt to show empathy.

But first literal shoes – well boots.  I have two pairs of Brasher boots which I love, a heavier pair of hill boots and a very lightweight pair of leather boots.  Each pair has something that needs repairing and I am not in the position to just send them off the the specialist recommended repairers.  So I asked the company for advise on glue that I could buy to make my own repairs so I could eek my precious boots out until I can go shopping for new Brashers.  They very kindly replied by return with a suggested product.

Why so much effort over a pair or two of boots? well at this time of year with two dogs I need boots for walking in and the dog yard is so boggy I often keep them on all day.  Not to mention that walking is free exercise and so I can afford that whereas a gym membership would be out of reach.  The heavier pair had got wet yesterday and I really need them to dry out properly so I wore them for the dog walk today and then swapped to the light leather ones – that felt odd walking about in feather light boots!  I haven’t worn them for  a while so it was rather like walking in another’s shoes.

Then I got an e-mail from a friend who was procrastinating about a task; I do regularly slip her shoes on but today I just offered no nonsense advice – do it now and enjoy the rest of your time off!  Not sure whether that worked or not … will find out in due course.  Of course if we know a person well enough and have walked far enough in their shoes we often don’t wait to try them on again.

After the dog walk it was off to see Evelyn again.  She was glum when I arrived; she has had a letter turning down her appeal for sheltered housing.  I have tried walking in the shoes of the appeals panel but it isn’t working – they certainly are not trying on Evelyn’s shoes either!  They show a total lack of understanding of how isolating total deafness is; once Evelyn is at home alone she cannot use the telephone – even though it is adapted for deafness and she can not hear the Community Alarm team if she presses her alarm.  She never shares a meal with anyone and she is scared in her current home at night time when she has taken out her hearing aid.  Evelyn will not mind you telling me she is 85 very soon; she does very well for 84 but since her broken leg last Autumn her mobility has been reduced and her health seems harder won.  I told her that she seemed frailer to me – I was not being unkind, she asked me to be honest.

She now has no further right of appeal unless she seeks a Judicial Review.  What on earth is a local authority doing when it makes it impossible for an 84 year old vulnerable person to be heard at their own appeal and then politely refers them to a process like Judicial Review; even if Evelyn’s sought that review and the outcome was the she should be higher priority for the sheltered accommodation it cannot force a vacancy for her to take up.

This is the disgrace of the public sector here in the UK – Evelyn was told in the letter that she is on the priority list for the sheltered housing but she is no higher priority than she was when she joined the list in May 2010 … really? this woman has almost no natural hearing left – as verified by her audiologist last week; she had two fractures at the end of last year as a result of falls; the broken leg has caused her to favour one leg and has resulted in an exacerbation of arthritic pain in her other knee; she has had five further falls since Christmas and yet she has not increased in priority in almost 3 years!  I have known Evelyn almost that length of time and her health has declined significantly in that period.  Whilst she is still capable of independently travelling by bus and doing her messages and these activities do afford her socialisation, she is debilitated by loneliness, falls and no hearing – we should be doing everything possible to maintain her with as much independence as she can have.

I will, with Evelyn’s agreement try and take this further but without seeking  a Judicial Review which I think would be unhelpful to her and possibly even harmful.  Tonight my heart hurts for her  and the fact she has not been allowed a voice in her own life!

Did you guess who those footprints at the beginning belong to – they are not actually Evelyn’s or my procrastinating friend or even mine!  They are from the flock of geese that live along the road.  Here are a couple more pictures of their snowy footprint art:

The geese were there when I passed with the dogs – amazingly Dog who has always been keen to try on their shoes ignored them but wee Pup was rather too interested so he got a sharp “Leave them” as he stared in their direction and they exited stage left honking.

There is something else exciting happening – a change – that I have been asked not to detail anywhere yet; however it is very exciting to be aware and to have been asked my views on some aspects.  It renewed my hope that what goes around comes around.

At the moment the snow has come around again – that tight little pellet type snow which I can hear hitting the back door and coming down the chimney … hope it will go around in a few minutes when it is doggy bedtimes brrrrr.  Tomorrow I need to make an “under the weather” card for someone who has got themself in a bit of bother and needs a wee rest in hospital … and then I need to think about how to support Evelyn over her housing.  And of course there is all the usual jobsearch stuff to fit in as well.

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About nonehpets

I have an interest in how interior design and adapting a home to support living independently for longer can be complementary. The blog Life Long Design is part of an holistic plan for establishing a social enterprise which will offer the people of Tayside opportunities to explore Telecare and the wider scope of assistive technologies. Enabling individuals to make more informed and responsible choices in the care and support they need in their independent living. I am also keen to see public transport more widely adopted and sustainable rural bus services in particular supported. The Blog Travels with a Megarider shares my journey to find serenity in my life as I make that transition form employment to social entrepreneur. One of my methods in increasing serenity is to travel as many miles as I can on a fixed price bus ticket and explore my own local places of interest. Places that I used to go past and had never stopped to look at; places of peace and tranquility; places where I have had some wonderful conversations with complete strangers. I would like to share with you a response to when I described that one paragraph in an e-mail made it sound simple: "Believe me, Cathy, it does not sound simple. You are taking on an incredible challenge for all the right reasons. It is ambitious and admirable - the sort of project that can change lives, including yours." He is right it is ambitious but when did we every achieve anything by settling for the status quo and ignoring what doesn't work for people? So I would welcome your company from time to time on this journey either simply as a reader or if you are brave enough adding your own thoughts to the comments as you feel moved.

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