Jul 052012


Our AGM is on the 11th of May 2012 at 3 pm and our MP, Michael Fallon, has agreed to speak on ‘What the Government is Doing for Seniors’.  With nearly 230 members, we have enough people to make sure that our speaker’s message will be heard in many a house in the District.

Do come along to hear how SDSAF has been doing, to take the opportunity to listen to Michael, and to feed back to him your own views on what Parliament should be doing for people over the age of 50.

Also on the bill, as they say, a presentation from Mary Baker of DropBy, and an update from Vice Chairman, Merilyn Canet, on the Transport to Hospital campaign.  This is also the annual opportunity to elect Committee Officers and hear of our financial position.   Refreshments available.

VENUE:  Sevenoaks Town Council, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 3QG.  From the A25 and the west, the Council Offices are on the right after The Bradbourne School and before the traffic lights.  From north and south, take the A225 and at the Bat and Ball traffic lights at the A25, head west for Riverhead – the offices are on the left in about 200 yards.  From the east, take the A25 through the A225 junction for 200 yards.  If you’re a Satnav lover, TN13 3QG will put you close!


Dear Roger, thank you for your emails.  I find them most helpful.  At age 90…

 … I now longer drive and find it difficult to get to meetings that are some distance away from my home.  I had to go to the new hospital at Pembury 2 days after it opened to have a plaster removed from my arm having broken a bone.  There is no hospital transport and 3 changes of buses by public transport and I had to ask a neighbour to take me.  The place was in chaos and the appointment system had broken down so I waited 3 hours longer than I expected.  It was a good job that my driver had a mobile phone and was able to stay with me.

I was very sorry for the staff who were overwhelmed that day.  Since then I have had to visit (another dept).  I had an 11.30 appointment and again had to wait a while cutting across my driver’s lunch time and needing the cooperation of his wife as we were not home until gone 1.30pm.

Fortunately my next appointment will now be at Sevenoaks Hospital along the end of my road and I can walk…   So thank you for keeping an eye on the situation for me, yours truly, M.


No, I don’t mean singing higher or lower, I’m talking about the size of the letters on the page.  After quite a few newsletters we’ve decided to change the size of the lettering so that we can get more news in.  Is that okay?


Public meetings around the District are suggesting that there are so many issues of concern to our Members that we need to establish some Special Interest Groups.  These would be groups of people who would like to chase some particular issue and feel that they would have more success if they were joined by a few accomplices, sorry I meant companions, across the District.  SDSAF would be happy to support and advise these groups on how they might deal with the problem that they are focussing on and publicise their success.

Also with 3 town councils and 27 parish councils across the District, the committee feel that Local Groups, again backed by SDSAF, would make us even more effective in gathering and distributing news and information as well as being an effective local lobbying group.  Local knowledge and understanding is often very local indeed and Local Groups might better deliver what SDSAF is trying to do across the District.  With Members all over the District, we want to recruit more could you spread the word where you live?  Could you deliver a few newsletters to Members and to non-Members encouraging them to join?  We need SDSAF Local Agents!  Contact Roger Bryan, our Chairman.


Sarah and Gadge of Boomerang

We had a very good meeting at Edenbridge in March but we clashed with an Edenara gathering and missed out on many of the people we hoped to meet.  If we had had a Local Group in Edenbridge, there would not have been a clash!

Sarah Pearson and Gadge Barker told us about the Boomerang project.  This is a brilliant idea and reminds me of the baby sitting points system that was popular all those years ago!  Basically, you offer your time and expertise to Boomerang and you can ask them for help for something you need.  So, for example, if you are quite good at wallpaper hanging but not so good at shortening a pair of trousers, tell Boomerang that you want to offer some hours of paperhanging, bank the hours that you have given and trade them in for some help with the hems.

Of course, it depends on who can offer what skills and there’s more to the scheme than I have room for here.  So

Michael Smith

what could you offer?   Call Sarah or Gadge on 01732 74 94 00.

We also had some very good Fire Safety Michael Smith advice from Michael Smith of Kent Fire and Rescue who would be very happy to install smoke alarms and give you advice on making sure your property is safe from fire risks.  In 2011, their people attended an astonishing 17,736 incidents – don’t be one, call 01622 69 21 21 and ask for Community Safety.


Getting to the Hospital, the Doctor’s or to Other Health Services -  A Special report on the Transport to Hospital Survey being conducted by SDSAF Vice Chairman, Merilyn Canet

 By April 2012, we had received over 140 replies to the SDSAF survey form on how we get to hospitals and other health services.  The concerns expressed are summarised here along with some views on what could happen next and some conclusions.



1        Hospital transport        Traditional Hospital Transport has been greatly reduced without our being informed that this was to happen. Medical Practices and Sheltered Housing Scheme Managers did not know of these changes until they tried to arrange transport for elderly, ill and vulnerable people, and were refused help.

2a      Travel Planning             Tunbridge Wells Pembury Hospital – a centre of excellence which cost many millions to build had no travel plan or 106 agreement for Sevenoaks, Edenbridge or the villages in between.

2b      There has been inadequate planning of how the Patients, many of whom are elderly, non-drivers, chronically sick or on low incomes, will get to the services,. Younger family members (if there are any) may live at a distance, if in work may be reluctant or unable to take time off for fear of losing their employment.

3        Communicating Decisions      There has been poor communication of decisions to the people who are or will be affected.

4        Implications of Treatment      Loss of fitness to drive after treatment or illness may affect some people – eye treatment at Maidstone, oncology treatments at Maidstone, often over many months. After some illnesses people may still be able to drive very locally but getting to a new place along unfamiliar roads and coping with parking may be unwise or impossible. Some people can only drive safely in daylight up to quite a young age i.e. 70.

5        Special Needs       People with walking aids or poor vision may just be able to get about but be unable to cope with bus or train.

6        Public Transport Impact on Appointments         The current public transport provision means that appointments may be missed because of the unavailability or unreliability of public transport. This is a waste to the NHS and causes distress to the patient.

7        Communicating Appointments         Appointments sent by post may be unopened or unread. Text sent to mobile phones could be useful and emails. Make it easier to change appointments by phone.

8        Help with Recovery       Visitors are also unable to help with a relative or friend’s recovery because of the transport difficulties make visits hard to manage and too short.

9        Increasing Risk    Probably more people with cars are scared to stop driving even when they recognize that it might be sensible to stop now or in the near future.

10      Costs          Most people will need to know about costs so that they can save up for visits to essential health care facilities. A taxi from Sevenoaks may cost £60 return to Pembury not a paltry sum out of a small pension income.


1        SDSAF Help          SDSAF has already taken up some concerns with the people who can do something in the NHS e.g. later appointment times so that people can use their free bus passes but more could be done including bunching appointments for patients from a geographic area so that they could use a minibus, and transferring more follow up services to local Medical Practices?

2        Communicating Appointments         Appointments could be sent by text to mobile phones and emails.  It needs to be easy to change appointments by phone.

3        Better Advertising of Voluntary Services  Like Dial-a-Ride Inshape, town council newsletters, U3A newsletters and SDSAF can all help to get information out to the community on available services and opportunities.  Hospital Appointment people, carers, CAB, doctors, pharmacies and libraries should know about these services so that they all can help.  Successful businesses have learnt how to inform people on what they offer: we should learn from them.  Prescriptions, food and pizzas are all being delivered now: this is comparatively new and a great help. 

4        Funding      Sevenoaks District Council and the town councils could consider funding known as CIL (community infrastructure levy) for more voluntary schemes like Dial-a-Ride, Volunteer Drivers or subsidising taxis.


The survey shows me that there is much anger and worry about how the correspondents are coping now and in the future. There is little information about what preparations people should make to help themselves,  by getting accurate details of buses, trains or costs of taxis or other transport providers i.e. Dial-a-Ride. There are some voluntary transport groups but their costs are increasing and their availability too small for the size of the problem.

I have only surveyed older people but many younger people especially women with young children have similar problems. Most people that I have spoken to seem not to know that much transport to hospital has been withdrawn.

Merilyn Canet 8th April 2012  merilyncanet@talktalk.net

If you would like to add your views on Transport to Hospital and other health services, please contact SDSAF – see the newsletter for contact details.


A Healthy Living Event will be held in the Swanley Library & Information Centre on Saturday 28 April from 10am to 3pm.  Blood pressure tests, cholesterol tests and BMI checks for adults from 40-70 will be available.  The event is being organized by Sevenoaks District Council.  Are any Members available to hand out SDSAF publicity?  Contact the Chairman, Roger Bryan.

Committee Member Peter Mitchell attended a meeting at Darent Valley Hospital in February.  He reports…

‘During question time I asked if older people’s appointments could be made later as at present they can not use their bus pass.  Miss Annette Schreiner, Medical Director, said they had not been aware of the problem and that they will look into this hopefully to come up with a solution. They may be able to include a line in the letter the patient receives saying that if the appointment was too early they could ring to get it changed to a later time. They are already in talks with bus companies with the view of getting more services to stop at the hospital.’

So, if your appointment is too soon for you to use your bus pass, work out when you can get to the hospital and then ring them immediately.  Tell them that you have a bus pass and ask if your appointment can be after the time you have worked out.  PLEASE, PLEASE, let us know if you don’t get offered a new appointment time.  We probably can’t do anything about your appointment but we WILL take up the issue again with the hospital authorities.

The Communications Manager at Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury told us ‘I’m not aware of a specific provision to enable bus pass holders to arrive later but I would say that if this is raised at the time of booking an appointment or immediately after the appointment letter is received, then we would do our best to accommodate.

I’ll hope to check into this some more and let you know if I find out anything that may useful. In the meantime, I would like to point out that the Trust is subsidising a number of bus services to and from the hospital to meet other buses coming into Tunbridge Wells itself from outlying areas. The NHS as a whole also offers people on certain benefits the opportunity to recover travel costs to and from hospital and GP appointments.


SDSAF is offering free computer buddy sessions to members wanting to get on-line for the first time.  One of several volunteers – your “Computer Buddy” will give you two sessions of up to two hours each.  The sessions will cover two sets of skills to get you as a “new-to-computer” member over the threshold to:

  1. Browse the internet for interesting information,
  2. E-mail family and friends.

Contact Geoff Parsons on 01322663532 or Roger Bryan on 01322 664754


Sevenoaks District Council would like to invite you to take part in the opportunity of a lifetime by being an Olympic Volunteer.  The Council needs people to help spectators at the Olympic Torch Relay on the 20th July and for the Paralympic Games Road Cycling at Brands Hatch between the 5th-8th September.  Help our visitors to enjoy their 2012 Games experience and provide a welcoming and lasting legacy for visitors to our District.  Volunteers need to be over 18 years old.

All you need is a warm and welcoming nature and enjoy engaging with new people.  Full training will be provided as well as a uniform which you will be able to keep as a souvenir.   For further information telephone the Council on 01732 227000.


You may already understand what all this is about but on behalf of those, like me, who do not, an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a device which may be used in the resuscitation of cardiac arrest victims at the scene.  An AED available 24/7 is a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD). The faster we have treatment the better are our chances: this project wants PADs, and people trained to use them, available in every community.

SDSAF is backing this project.  Our research is revealing where AEDs currently are in Sevenoaks District but we know less about PADs.  Imagine a trained nurse who could help someone who has had a cardiac arrest in the street.  You don’t know where the nearest AED is (you don’t need to be a trained nurse to use an AED). This project wants to correct that with teams of volunteers and publically accessible AEDs in every community.  It could take years to do this but a good start now will help.  As with other SDSAF campaigns, we will be happily help local teams to get their local project off the ground.  SDSAF needs to;

1         Increase the size of our team of volunteers to publicise Project Defibrillator

2         Contact local residents and organisations to give them details of the Project

3         Research how the Project will run in a village or town

4         Publish information leaflets on aspects of the scheme

5         Help establish and support the first local teams in villages and towns

6         Identify needs and create a network of partners to assist with the Project.

At this stage, we need your help as a volunteer – to take on one or more of many tasks as a member of a local team or more widely.  Would you like to help?  And would you like us to help you with your plan?  You don’t have to do it all on your own, we can help you.

Some organisations may prefer to have an AED in a community hall which they occasionally use, not quite a PAD but it still affords the assurance of protection to the building’s users.  Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) should be available 24/7.

For more details, or to offer your help with Project Defibrillator, please contact Geoff Parsons or Roger Bryan using the details below.  Thanks.

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