The Death of my Mother

MumIt may seem an odd thing to Blog about the death of one’s Mother but I have learnt so much in the last two years it seems nonsensical to keep the journey to myself. We all miss Mum a great deal.  As a teacher, she knew the power of knowledge and the empowerment it brought.

Today, in London there are more than 250,000 people in the last five years of their life. In the UK, there are now 11.4 million people aged 65.   There are over 23.2 million people aged 50 years and over, over a third of the total UK population.   The number of people aged 65+ is projected to rise by over 40 per cent in the next 17 years to over 16 million. And most worrying of all, like my Mother, 3.5 million 65+ live alone.

Unless we do something, we are condemning generations of older people to a chaotic and unhappy last few of life. We can all do better!  This is not about service redesign, apps or productivity this is about happiness. So over the next few weeks, I intend to focus on some of the lessons I learnt.

My Mother died just after Christmas 2015; she was 90. She had survived three bouts of cancer, two knee replacements, World War 2 and a career as a teacher.  She was a pillar in her village community, helping the young ones, all in their 70s, access services. In the last few years of her life, she found it harder and harder to make sense of the services she needed. This was not because she was confused, it was mainly the lack of coordination between the service providers.   These providers were public sector, commercial, charity and church organisations. We had to coordinate and manage all of these services, visits and appointments.

So these are the lessons:

  • The five things you should know now
  • Engaging with friends and family
  • Finding Support
  • Allowances
  • Coordination of Services
  • Role of local NHS and Social Services
  • Hospitalisation and Blue Lights
  • Mini Mental Health Assessment
  • The chaos at the heart of the NHS
  • Access and Control

Pimp your podcast listening.

Over the last month, I have pimped by mobile phone podcast experience. Having used a fruit based product as my mobile for some years, I was happy to see the native Podcast app arrive with a recent upgrade. It has the advantage of being free (never underestimate the power of free in any marketing plan).

But I now prefer the heterogeneous world Android, so I have spent some time choosing an App. The best review I could find was on The Verge  so my choice is Shift Jelly’s Pocket Cast. If you don’t want to pay for an App then I think Stitcher is the best option. Now it’s just a matter of which casts? Here is my somewhat eclectic list:

From the BBC

  • In Our Time – has an extra bit on the end
  • Thinking Allowed
  • The Media Show
  • Front Row
  • Kermode & Mayo’s Film review – much more than just a repeat of the radio show

From The Economist

  • Editor’s Picks

From Penguin

  • Penguin Podcast with Richard E Grant

Independent –

  • The Journal by Kevin Rose
  • The Pen Addict
  • Cortex

Governments and Information

I was sitting in a meeting a couple of years ago discussing how governments used personal data,in the room were high panjandrums from every department of state plus a few people from civil liberty and allied organisations.

We came to the point when someone suggested that truly joined up personal information available to all government departments would be a real benefit for the citizen.

The libertarians were horrified. They were worried that Healthcare data could be cross matched with welfare payments and when discrepancies were found the citizen could be tried, convicted, a prison space made available and the Police would snatch the person from home and take them directly there.

I pointed out that it would be worse than that. The reality would be that data would be wrong and before we knew it the Government would be correcting us instead of the data. In my case I presume some surgical operation would be conducted to remove 10inches from my height to make sure it matched the “Official Data.” I can think of worse errors!

Governments think they know so much about us but in reality the real danger comes from companies like BT and Google. This TED talk explains the concern.

What’s next…

I have always wanted Oulook, (my current PIM of choice), my phone, and slate to know something about what I am up to. I mean beyond automatically setting my ring tone to silent during meetings. Google Now is heading in the right direction, telling me the weather in the morning, the proximity of food outlets at lunchtime and bars in the evening.

Context seems to be the name for this tech. Robert Scoble does a great job of looking at why we should both worry and how we might benefit from it.

We all know that our mobile phones are spying on us. If you are in blissful ignorance of this don’t watch Malte Spitz. You won’t like what you see. But what if we don’t mind being tracked as long as we are the only ones to benefit from it.

The challenge is how do we benefit from Context without handing security services both public and private the perfect source of tracking information.

If Microsoft, Google and Apple get this wrong, I will need to watch Enemy of the State again for a new set of tips and tricks.

My Web Week

A few people have asked where I go on the web. So rather than a list of links I thought I might try it as a narrative. As many will know I left Microsoft this summer and joined the NHS Commissioning Board. So this has informed my searches and visits this week.

At the outset I wanted to see what was going on elsewhere in the world of healthcare. I find a good place to start is Change This it is a manifesto version of TED and of course given the month the wonderful Adam Garone and his Movember journey. There is so much in TED you can always find something to inspire. But I also wanted a bit of technology so went to the Verge and the 90 Secs video brief and its always funky conclusion.
When I am in London I work out of Central Working and attached to it is a Gailes bakery.. I am interested in the rise of the Artisan and this is explained via and photo journey in CoolHunter.

Finally, I searched for some insight into the fast changing Social Media environment and in particular I want to know more about Nate Silver and what he had achieved in calling the 2012 Presidential Election in the US.

And that was my web week.

The Gas man cometh and then the

Flanders and Swan’s The Gas Man Cometh was an amusing ditty that is sadly still relevant today. My mother lives on her own in a small village in Surrey.

Not long ago a water leak sprang up in the road outside her house. The local commercial water company came to mend it 10 days after it was reported.

Three weeks after its repair the electricity went off in her house. The Commercial power company turned up 24 hours later to repair it. The Water company had damaged the supply and the cable had been fractured. It took 3 days, 3 holes and a generator for 72 hours to repair it.

During the power repair my mother’s phone stopped working. BT came to reconnect the service, it took 7 days, they could not find one of the ends of the broken cable that the power company had cut through and buried.

We check the gas regularly!