editorial, so humane, so focused, summarises the issues. As a psychotherapist, it has always been my belief and experience that almost
all suicides can be prevented, given the right care and alertness by those
close to the person and the person being willing to accept help. The lack of a timescale for FAIs is a legal flaw as well as adding pain to families and friends.
From a former chief social work inspector for Scotland:
We made greater progress in the early 1980s than since on integrating health and social care. I tried. Not least at the Scottish Office, now Government. I had a number of staff and had, I think sensibly, deployed them across the various departments: health for those focused on social care; education for those focused on children's services; and justice for those focused on criminal justice. The new minister for education, Peter Peacock, did not like this. A local authority person to his bone, he wanted all this stopped. And so it was. I still think it a shame. Today, joining up health and social care is the desperate policy need. I hope joining up with education will follow and, not least, criminal justice.
Which, in this tragic event, is why I write. The civil service is not always awake. Most of its default position is everything is fine, keep on going. Won't do. Not today, never did.
I think Katie Allan's death was quite avoidable. To avoid such deaths we need major changes. We have the talent and resources. So let's.
From a retired children's reporter for Dumfries and Galloway:
The sad death of Katie Allan got me thinking outside the box.
I have been in prison. I was the writer in residence for all the female prisoners in Dumfries prison as well as a prison visitor. I know the establishment as well as the inmates. What struck me was the politeness of the sober and thoughtful prisoners I met. My feelings are in step with the retiring inspector of prisons, David Strang, who said that prisons don't work for many. He suggested the closure of four Scottish prisons, or was it five? This means they will now serve their sentences in the community. But what service? What can they do? Clear rubbish, gather wood and sticks for the elderly in winter?
Or could they undertake functions in care homes?
Work in the laundry and with an ironing board.
Bring meals, make and bring cups of tea to residents when required.
Take residents out of their rooms and into public areas, and bring them back when it is appropriate.
Take them out in their wheelchairs for fresh air. (In all these tasks they must interact with residents. Staff currently do not have time for this.)
Some should work with the kitchen staff.
They should respond to bell calls and note the resident's request.
Any major infringement would lead to the full prison sentence being served.
I do not wish to see staff losing their jobs but when a staff member leaves, there would be no need for a replacement unless he/she was a qualified nurse. In time, a steady flow of community service orders would make a considerable impact on the present care arrangements in which life savings dwindle amid a very poor service.
I have knowledge of the care sector as my mother-in-law is 95 and in care. I know her frustrations. Currently, staff have little time to share dialogue with residents.
It seems that Katie Allen would have been a trailblazing success if she had been given that option. The bench could be much more proactive.