A visit to the Coroner

I had a meeting with the Coroner this morning.  That sounds ominous.  Perhaps he is someone that you never want to meet yet the time comes for everyone.  Death and taxes as the expression goes.  His office is in Crook and Neil and I met up with him on a cold and snowy morning.  The trip down the A68 was not my idea of fun.

We’d come to talk about New Ways of Working and the work we are planning to do.  His office occupies the top floor of the civic centre there.  It is known as the pagoda locally.  You need to be there to get what they mean.

We’d made a point of meeting up with all the managers who will be involved in the work we have to do.  We are making our best efforts to work with them rather than impose changes from on high.  It is a process, which we have come to know as MOT days, that is working very well.

I’d never met the coroner before.  I don’t think Neil had either.  It was a very interesting meeting.  I never realised the amount of work that comes across his desk.  He must be one of the busiest people in the whole of the county. He told us about his plans, how things were changing and the small team of people he had to help out.

He gave us an insight into the things he had to do.  We talked about how teams can work from different organisations in the same unit (police and council).  We also talked about storage and how some of his paperwork needs to be kept for ever.  A single death can lead to several storage boxes of the stuff and as the population of Durham is on the increase then so are the number of people who ae dying.

We also talked about DoLs (the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) which are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.  Although recently introduced they cover anyone who is in care and that is now including those with Alzheimer.  This single act has created so many more cases that need to be investigated and I was reminded how a small change in legislation can have untold and often unintended consequences.  There is a law for that.

We went for a trip around floor four and he described all the meeting rooms that he needed yet that were empty for much of the time.  Neil and I thought about how we could incorporate them into any upcoming asset booking system. It is vital that these rooms are only used for relatively quiet activities due to the nature of the investigations and hearings that go on there.

Although difficult to get there on the day, the meeting was well worth the trip.  Why am I telling you this?  Because the only way to experience something truly is to be there.  The only way to get to know what someone does and the issues that they are facing is to go and sit down with them in and amongst where it all happens.

We came away with a much greater understanding and, I believe, he very much appreciated us making the effort.

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