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 rely.
Elizabeth wanted to continue living as independently as possible. She did not wish the involvement of Social Services, nor did she wish to consider a Care Home. On this basis, Arac began to build a template, which Elizabeth would find supportive enough to be of assistance while simultaneously allowing her privacy and independence.
BUILDING THE TEMPLATE
ARAC’S long-term commitment began in 2005. When it became necessary for Elizabeth to be driven into Glasgow on a Saturday for her hairdressing appointment, ARAC provided a door-to -door service. While she was getting her hair done, ARAC further assisted by walking her dog. ARAC visited her frequently at home, responding to her needs as promptly as possible, frequently doing small repairs, or collecting items from the chemist or the shops. Occasional trips to the hospital or the dentist might be required outside the Saturday routine.
Due to a chest infection, Elizabeth was hospitalized in 2007, just before Christmas, ARAC covered her immediate release from the 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. We cooked and provided meals, walked her dog, and purchased her shopping.
Most importantly, we did not disable her by staying around when she felt able to cope.
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, we placed an advertisement 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, we introduced the appropriate 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, 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 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 84, 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. It created Local Employment.
- 2. It averted bed blocking incident – and the avoidance of long-term care.
- 3. It fostered Independence.
- 4. She has remained in the community.
- 5. There has been no episode of abuse or loss of dignity.
- 6. It fulfilled The Quality Strategy. – Safe, timely, effective, efficient and patient centred.
To be able to provide this level of support it is important to identify the client 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.”