Services saved my dad

So often we hear terrible things about social services in the media. However I want to flag up some positive news about the South Shields team '“ one member in particular probably saved my father's life this weekend.

My 86-year-old father has Alzheimer’s, and last Saturday at 3pm we were contacted by his drop-in carer to say that his central heating boiler had broken down, so his house was freezing.

The care company, a private firm, said they couldn’t help further. Also we live in South Devon, which is a good eight hours’ drive away, so, on a freezing Saturday night, our only option was to get an emergency plumber out, which we duly tried to do – making call after call to plumbers in the area.

By 6.30pm we hadn’t been able to get an available plumber. In desperation I turned to social services – the out-of-hours service – and spoke to a lovely gentleman called John.

I explained the situation and John was brilliant. He was calm and took control of the situation, suggesting that he went out and purchased an electric heater for my dad.

He said there was no petty cash but he offered to get it from his own money and we could pay him back! I was so impressed at the kindness of this man.

Fortunately, we worked out that I could buy a couple of heaters directly online and John said he would pick them up from Argos and go to my dad’s house and set them up for him.

John went round to dad’s house, to meet a very cold, very confused old man, and with kindness and caring, he not only installed the heaters, he also called us when the plumber arrived (we finally got hold of one and he and John met at the house) and explained the situation to my father as the plumber needed a part so couldn’t return until Monday.

In short, I really think that John probably saved my poor old dad’s life. He took fast action and meant that dad was warm all weekend.

We are planning to move my father into sheltered accommodation in a few weeks. I can only hope that the social services in that area are as good and caring as the South Shields team.

I’m afraid we never got John’s surname, but he is an amazing social worker at South Shields. He does the team proud.

With enormous gratitude,

Sue Haswell,