In 2004, a retired medical practitioner, Elizabeth*, asked for help from Arac. A stroke had left her less confident and with poorer mobility. She needed assistance around the house and some degree of observation. Living alone and now elderly, she had never married, and had no family on whom she could depend.
ARAC began working with Elizabeth in 2005, with simple tasks, such as driving her to the hairdressers, taking the dog for a walk, picking up prescription. Gradually as her needs increased, we found someone to assist on a more regular basis, but kept in regular contact.
In 2007, when Elizabeth was hospitalized due to a chest infection just before Christmas, ARAC covered her immediate release from hospital, staying in her home for a week. During this time, over the Christmas period, ARAC provided overnight cover, and cared for her at home. Meals were provided, the dog walked, and shopping purchased.
In April 2008, a mains water pipe burst in Elizabeth’s loft, which flooded the kitchen and front room. ARAC arrived within 10 minutes of the emergency phone call. Due to Elizabeth’s profound deafness, the disaster consumed weeks of time, as there were Insurance companies to negotiate with at length.
ARAC achieved estimates from reputable workers, cleared rooms, checked loft insulation and assisted with furniture removal.
During these weeks, ARAC was required to assist Elizabeth with the various journeys to replace all that had been lost in the flood: carpets, curtains, and new paint all required to be chosen. The process was a convoluted one, and the Insurers were not always sympathetic to a disabled lady with a hearing difficulty. The process went on until June, with almost daily contact.
In 2009, after another small stroke, more support was required. ARAC was on call most of the time, and an advertisement was placed in Morrison’s, for an extra member of staff to assist Elizabeth in the house. From the responses to the advert, ARAC took up CVs and carried out interviews, lastly introducing the final candidates to Elizabeth, who always made the final decision.
A member of staff, already in place, assisted with the training: where things were kept; how meals should be cooked, the general routine. Flexibility and the ability to respond to needs were crucial.
At Christmas, 2009, Elizabeth wanted to have her friends round for a meal on Christmas Day itself. ARAC did the shopping, cooked the meal on Christmas Day, cleared up and washed the dishes, before leaving. This allowed Elizabeth to spend the rest of the day with her friends.
Throughout the remaining two years, ARAC carried out a variety of small chores: buying papers; collecting prescriptions; charging batteries; clearing the snow from paths or from the roof, washing soffits and applying damp sealant to the ceiling.
ARAC also took her on holiday: fabricated ramps: attended when she was ill: drove her to the vet when her dog was ill; supported her in the loss of her pet.
Having set up the model, ARAC then withdrew to the background, and friends, who saw the value of what was being achieved, were happy to accept more responsibility.
ARAC has visited twice in the last year, but there is no longer a role to fulfil. Elizabeth is now very frail. Now 85, she has a poor memory, limited mobility and severe deafness.
However, she remains happy to remain in her own home, as independently as possible.
1. Local Employment was created.
2. A bed- blocking incident was averted – maybe the avoidance of long term care.
3. Independence was fostered.
4. She has remained in the community.
5. There has been no episode of abuse, or loss of dignity.
6. The Quality Strategy is fulfilled:
Safe, timeous, effective, efficient and patient centred.
To be able to provide this level of support, it is important that the client is identified early, and the possibilities and options are fully discussed. Client awareness and forward planning are critical.
“For several years I have been aware of the existence of Arac, and know that at any time when I have needed assistance, in any way, that it would respond immediately to my request.”