I am hopping mad. Well you may think I am mad anyway! I have recently been involved with the start of a group for the University of the Third Age (U3A), and we are slowly getting off the ground. Living in a small town we knew it would be less likely we would get droves of people pounding the door, but we are getting there. We have some very talented musicians and some wonderful historians in our group, as well as artists and others.
For those unfamiliar with the U3A, its aim is the education and stimulation of mainly retired members of the community – those in their third ‘age’ of life. I started thinking perhaps we could do something for the community by sharing this. I approached a hostel and they were delighted, said “yes”, so a talk on a local identity plus a simple morning tea will form part of the event. I hope it will take place…
I was asked if we wanted a rock ‘n’ roll demonstration and at the same time had been offered a music session, which would involve the local nursing home residents this time. We would go along they would watch or sing. Not them doing the rock and roll, of course! It would mean some members of U3A would go along as part of a choir. Good I thought; a nice change for the resident’s and bit of the outside world for them. How wrong I was; how foolhardy. I should have known the red tape was ready to strangle us.
I was told all the members need police checks. I wondered why when all they would be doing is singing. What could they possibly get up to while singing ‘Daisy’? Will the drummer go off and steal a necklace in the midst of drum solo? An hour of entertainment was all it would be. We would make sure no person was in any of the rooms or alone with a resident.
I worked at this nursing home for many years, so I know the dangers. I had a police check and understood why, so there was no problem there. As a carer, I was dealing with residents in vulnerable situations, in a position of trust. Cash and jewellery were often lost because residents had various forms of dementia; we had to be scrupulously honest, and always vigilant. Yet, the evil people can still get through in spite of a police check. That does not stop the really vile people. Are relatives scrutinised too? Who checks the travelling salesman, or anyone else who pops in for physio, they could just as easily duck into a room and do damage.
It would be pure common sense for the establishment to say, “Yes we will welcome the older members of the community, those people who have worked and are still active, yes we will accept they may be older [most U3A members are between 65 and 90] but they still have active brains and are willing to do something for the residents”. Instead they turn people away, and make them feel like criminals.
Baloney! I am deeply saddened by this attitude. It puts people off and makes them a slave to rules that are not at all steeped in logic.
Catering, horse events and school playgrounds are all examples of areas they have been brought to their knees, as a cement of rigid rules are spread. You need a degree to make a sponge, a lawyer to have a gymkhana, and the SES at every playground. We were asked to do an emergency help for meals on wheels, ah, but we need a police check first. I was delivering just for two lunchtimes. Should have told them I only plunder and pillage when there is an p in the month?