New partnership helps Biggar man live independently

Allan Snowden (90) with members of the Integrated Community Support Team  Sandie Taylor District Nursing Sister and Becci Pearce and Mary Logan, Home Carers.
Allan Snowden (90) with members of the Integrated Community Support Team Sandie Taylor District Nursing Sister and Becci Pearce and Mary Logan, Home Carers.

A MAN who once coordinated a rapid response emergency service for dairy farmers – including those working for the Queen – has praised a health and social care team in his own time of need.

Along with his late wife Ida, Allan Snowden (90), from Biggar ran a service which could be dispatched at short notice to tend to a dairy herd anywhere in Scotland if the farmer was unable, either through illness, injury or taking leave.

Northern Farmers’ Relief Service, which operated from 1954 until 1974 employing 30, served an illustrious client list including the Earl of Caithness, resident factor at the Queen’s Balmoral estate.

But now Mr Snowden has found himself in receipt of vital support when his own health took a turn for the worse in recent years - in the form of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integrated Community Support Team (ICST).

Mr Snowden said: “During my working life, I always derived a real sense of satisfaction from helping farmers. Many cases were to cover holiday but a lot of the calls we dealt with got farmers out of a real bind.

“I remember once, for example, a farmer had broken his leg one night and was unable to work. We were on the scene the next morning to milk the cows.

He added: “You could see the sense of relief we brought to farmers and their families. We were perceived as the emergency service of the dairy world.

“It’s funny all these years later that I find myself as recipient of a service that’s extremely well-organised, efficient and brought me a great sense of relief and support when I’ve most needed it.”

In recent years Mr Snowden has required hospital treatment – and various admissions – for a number of conditions including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the name for a collection of lung diseases.

But Mr Snowden, a grandfather of eight and great grandfather of two has been able to get back home and live independently thanks the work of the ICST.

The team, which is now active across South Lanarkshire, aims to prevent unnecessary hospital or care home admissions and reduce the length of stay in hospital.

The ICST has brought together nurses, physiotherapists and hospital discharge rehabilitation staff from NHS Lanarkshire with social workers, home care workers and occupational therapists from South Lanarkshire Council. Medical care is provided by the person’s own GP who links, when needed, with hospital consultants.

Recipients have ranged from those with complex care needs to people with less serious conditions which could require hospital admission if left untreated.

Mr Snowden explained: “I receive regular visits from home care staff and medical staff, including district nurses, who attend to my various needs. They coordinate their visits so I can get on with my day and they’re always all up to date with my condition so I’m not repeating my story.

“That allows me to stay at home here in Biggar, have my family visit me and to go for short walks around the town. After leading such an active life it’s wonderful to be able to retain that independence. I can’t thank the team enough.”

Harry Stevenson, Chief Officer, South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, praised the joined-up work supporting Mr Snowden and others who need support later in life.

Harry said: “As we integrate health and social care services this example illustrates that there is a lot of good work already underway in South Lanarkshire.

“As we now look to build on a well-established spirit of partnership working, Mr Snowden’s story, and his kind words, bode well for the future of community-based care and support.”

Mr Snowden’s praise comes as integrated health and social care arrangements are required to be in place here, and across Scotland, by April 1 2016.

South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership (H&SCP) has been set up to take this reform – which is required by law – forward.