Thursday, 5 July 2012

Well, blow me down

MANY excuses have been made to try and explain away Weymouth’s chronic traffic and development problems.

Local politicians are understandably touchy about this in an Olympic year but, for all the pressure on them, none has so far plumbed the depths of stupidity to the extent that they are a serious rival for the Government’s Immigration Minister Damian Green.

Believe it or not he attempted to explain away the length of time non-European passengers are waiting to have their passports checked at airports by saying it could depend on which direction the wind is blowing at the time!

Could we perhaps have stumbled on the reason for Weymouth’s crumbling harbour walls, empty shops and less than intelligent transport system?

Could it be that all our troubles can be blamed on gale force winds up the Channel or should we try to retain our grasp on reality even if the Government cannot.

I’m afraid that those troubles – like the Government – won’t go away for a long while, but at least most of our local politicians concentrate on politics and not a parallel career as a stand up comic like Green.

There really is no bright side

REMEMBER when it was possible to be warm and get a tan during the so-called English summer?

That is certainly not the case this year which has just had the wettest June in Weymouth since records began way back in 1880 on top of the wettest ever April.

As we all huddle for shelter under umbrellas or copies of Monsoon Monthly, it is as well to remember that March was fantastic and that autumn last year was not too dusty either, so what has happened to our summer sizzlers?

Well, if the experts can be believed, there may be a slow change to shoulder season sunshine as various aspects of global warming make themselves felt. This could also include a trend towards colder winters.

So look on the bright side. Summer rain could become more likely and winters could be getting colder... erh... forget what I said. There isn’t a bright side.

Fierce security over a bottle of fizz

ANY shred of doubt that Olympic security is going to be fierce has been dispelled by this incredible tale related to me by a Weymouth diabetic.

He is a keen sportsman and decided that a visit to try and see Olympic test events such as hockey would be a great way to get into the Olympic spirit.

So off he went to London and he was soon at the test venue, but he found himself spending a lot of time waiting to be allowed to go further into the site.

In fact he found his progress halted an unbelievable five times for serious consultations because of security concerns over his belongings before some official finally decided that perhaps the man was not a threat to national security and let him in.

Now you may be curious to know what it was that five times triggered such suspicion. Incredibly it was a small bottle of a well known energy drink that the man had taken with him because of his diabetes!

So the message is clear. Anyone carrying an innocuous object such as this bottle can potentially expect big delays getting in to Olympic events and if you’re heavily armed with bangers and mash, pop corn or any other “suspect” explosive device then you might just get in for the closing ceremony.

Hurry up and pay!

SHOCK news has been given to people using car parks or browsing supermarket shelves that they must pay for such services.

All too often people are held up at the multi-storey car park in Weymouth or tills at some of the town’s supermarkets while dozy individuals suddenly realise they have a bill to settle.

Drivers queueing to pay for their ticket don’t need their blood pressure raised by the person at the head of the queue waiting until a charge is displayed before even starting to fumble through their pockets for a wallet or coins.

Shoppers have it even worse. It always seems to be the person who’s spent ten minutes stacking a mountain of goods on the till conveyor belt who only realises money is needed to buy them right at the point of payment.

You see it happen time after time. First the embarrassed apology, then the fumble through a pocket or bag, then a flustered smile followed by a fumble through the right pocket or bag and finally – when everyone behind them is losing the will to live – another apology and a sheepish request asking if they can pay by card.

It would be nice if car parks and supermarkets could follow the reverse example of airports and, instead of a fast track, offer such human snails a slow track so the rest of us have a chance to get on with the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Stuart Truelove

STUART Truelove and his wife Lorrie manage Everycare Wessex, which is based in Dorchester. The company provides nursing and care staff throughout the region. Here Stuart talks about his reasons for working in the care sector and what makes Everycare such a popular service provider, for clients and staff alike. Stuart is 66 years old and lives near Cattistock.

HOW did you end up running a nursing and care services company?
Until about the age of 50, I worked in the property industry, firstly in architecture and then as a project manager. I finally ended up as a director of a plc. My wife and I decided upon a lifestyle change and moved to Dorset 17 years ago, with the intention of starting our own business, but at the time we did not know what. We started the business in 1997 by buying a franchise, enabling us to benefit from the skills and knowledge base of an established organisation.

WHAT drew you towards an interest in care services?
I got into care work as a result of my parents approaching the end of their lives. A search for a suitable care home for my mother, by then suffering from dementia, opened my eyes to the care industry and the huge variation in the quality of care that was available.

WHAT makes Everycare a good service provider?
It is down to a combination of quality, reliability and having a great team of employees. Neither my wife nor I could ever be satisfied unless we sincerely believed that we were doing our utmost to be the very best at what we do. For some elements of our service we are effectively an emergency service, and by this I mean that when for instance a hospital contacts us for cover staff, they will have already striven to resolve any staff shortages internally. So if they book our staff, and we were to let them down in some way, they have very few options left to them to resolve the matter. 

WHAT is your mantra?
‘Never let the customer down!’

WHAT gives you the greatest sense of job satisfaction?
We are a family led business, often intimately involved with the families of those for whom we care, and that gives great job satisfaction. But most of all I love the fact that it is a people business, both in respect of our staff and clients. 

WHAT kind of feedback do you get from your clients?
We get a lot of positive feedback from our clients, both corporate and private. We are required by legislation to have a robust quality assurance system, but often the most welcome feedback of all is the unsolicited letters of thanks that we receive, very often from the families of those for whom we have cared. Some of the letters can be intensely moving, and we always ensure that the staff who actually delivered the care get the thanks.

WHAT skills or experience do people need in order to work for Everycare?
Basically nothing other than having a caring nature. Many of our staff join us as novices, and we have a superb training regime that gives them the confidence and knowledge they need. We have had a few who have started with us as a care assistant, then progressed to being a health care assistant (working in care homes and hospitals), and who have then gone on to undergo their nurse training. 

HOW many staff do you employ?
We employ approximately 130 staff, ranging from registered nurses, health care assistants and community care assistants.

WHAT would you do if you won the lottery?
Depends how much. Let us pretend it is mega-millions, in which case I would settle sufficient upon my two daughters to ensure their financial stability for life, and probably buy a super yacht and a holiday home somewhere in Provence. But I would also set up a Dorset Dementia Centre as a charity, with its main aim being to continually gather in the very best knowledge and training from around the world and disseminate the benefits to sufferers, their families and carers in Dorset.

WHAT else do you get up to?
I am vice-chairman of the Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole Care Providers Association. My main hobby is sailing and I am vice commodore of Portland Yacht Club. Mundane as it may seem, I also love gardening.