Care Questions : Article 49Care Questions : Article 49

Your Care Questions Answered by Angela Gifford - ARTICLE No.49

"I have a large garden at the edge of the village and it has many trees of all types. Recently, I was approached by a man who told me he was a tree surgeon and that some of my trees overhanging the road were a danger to the public. He offered to cut them to a safe shape for me but I declined and used the excuse that perhaps I would have them done in the autumn.

Looking at the trees he is probably right that they could be dangerous and I am happy to have them made safe. How can I make sure that I approach a reputable tree surgeon as I do have my doubts about the gentleman above?"

Answer : Many people are conned by people calling themselves tree surgeons who have no idea about what they are doing and can therefore leave you with trees that are less safe than before they touched them. I would suggest two things that you can do:

  1. Contact your local council Tree Officer who should have a list of local verified tree surgeons.

  2. Ring 01794 368717 which is the telephone number of The Arboricultural Association, (website The Association maintains a quality assurance scheme for consultants and contractors through its register. They can also give you helpful information about what documents to see, charging, etc.

"My mother and father emigrated to Spain a few years ago and my father has since died. Although in relatively good health my mother is now in her late eighties and somewhat isolated as the friends they made are also now quite old and many have died. My mother has no intention of returning to the UK and I am concerned that she will become isolated should she become less able than she is now. Do you know of any organisations for older people in Spain?"

Answer : You do not say where in Spain your mother lives but there is an organisation, which she will probably recognise from her time in the UK that can help. Age Concern operates in Spain and has several branches. If you go to their website at you can obtain further details. They have English speakers available to talk to you if you do not speak Spanish.

"I live several hundreds of miles away from my elderly parents but usually manage to visit them once a month. At this time I carry out minor jobs for them if there is a need. However, last time I went down my Father had a bruised body because he had carried out a little job "he did not need help with." He had tried to change a light bulb and had fallen off the chair. Are there any aids or tips you can give to make such a task safer?"

Answer : There is no device or aid that I know of that will make changing a light bulb a safe activity for an older person. There are a couple of things that can be done to make the situation a little less of a hazard. Firstly, replace existing light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs in order that they do not need replacing so often and secondly, have a reading lamp or other design of lighting where the bulb can be attended to at standing height. These not to be the main lighting of a room but to act as a reserve light until the bulb can be replaced.

If your parents have a good neighbour group in the vicinity then setting up an arrangement with them whereby your parents can call them if a bulb needs replacing should ensure that you can eliminate any future problems. Or alternatively there may be neighbour who they could call on for help.

"I live in the middle of a small town that seems to have an increasing number of rowdy, intimidating, and sometimes drunken people milling around. There is increasing vandalism and litter. A friend has told me that there is now a new number that can be rung, not 999, for help. Is this so?"

Answer : I think you are talking about the number 101. 101 is a new 24-hour number provided by your police and local council to deal with community safety issues, including certain non-emergency crime, policing and anti-social behaviour. You use this number101 is for problems relating to vandalism, graffiti, noise, drunken and rowdy groups, broken street lighting, abandoned cars, etc.

The number is currently being rolled out across the country and by 2008 anyone living in England and Wales should have access to it. The service will be manned 24 hours a day and it will cost 10 pence per call.

It is important however to realise that for emergency calls you still should use 999.

To see if this service is available in your area you can call the Programme Team on 020 7035 0047.