Carer Andy's Story
When his mother returned home from hospital for palliative care, family man Andy decided to put his own life on hold. The 54 year old, who himself fights constant pain due to spinal cord damage, moved in with his mum Betty and dad Roy and became their carer.
Without the help of our hospice charity he doesn’t know how he would have coped with his new responsibilities.
“It’s just unbelievable what ellenor has done for us,” he said. “I’m married with grown-up children and it’s soul destroying when you don’t see your wife and kids for such a long time. But having help from ellenor completely changed things. It’s nice to know that when you are in a bad way you can pick up the phone and talk to someone who’s clued up.
“I’ve been living here with my parents in Joydens Wood for five months now. I wasn’t expecting it to be so long. When I moved in, I thought I would be giving my mum end of life care. I wanted to give her the best life with what time she had left.
“I am lucky that my wife Amanda is so understanding – she is in the caring profession herself and is a real diamond.”
Betty, 87, was admitted to hospital after a stroke left her with a bleed on the brain in November 2020 and caught Covid while she was there.
Andy says: “How she survived I really don’t know – we call her The Iron Lady. Without ellenor I don’t think mum would be here now. She came out of hospital after 5 weeks looking like she was at death’s door. ellenor was appointed to give her end of life care. But when the occupational therapist walked through the door, I had probably given mum two days of food and fluid so she was talking quite well, and things were a lot better. Mum’s a fighter, simple as that.
“The ellenor girls had a good chat with her and kept coming back every few weeks. It really boosted me up because they were saying how well she was doing.
“Mum at this point had spent 109 days without her feet touching the floor and she was getting to the stage where she was fed up with life. Trying to get the help we needed, often felt like running at a concrete wall. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown really. It felt like I was trying to do the utmost for my mum, but no one else cared.
“But when I called ellenor – to be honest I cried down the phone - an occupational therapist came out and decided mum was strong enough to be hoisted into a wheelchair. Then mum moved onto using a Sara Stedy, which helps her transfer from her bed to a wheelchair. She also has inflatable pads to go in her chair to relieve pressure points. And they sorted out a sling to keep her arm, where she has lost movement, close to her body when she is out of bed.
“I soon saw a dramatic change, like a weight had been lifted off her. Instead of being in bed all the time there were things to look forward to again. I could take her round the shops in a wheelchair.”
Although Andy was responsible for a great deal of his mum’s personal care when she arrived home from hospital, carers now come in every day to change her incontinence pads and feed her, which is time consuming as she has a paralysed palate.
Our occupational therapist has helped Andy find a reclining chair for his mum, and made sure ramps are installed around their home. She also hopes to install a commode, now Betty is stronger.
He says: “I also found an electric wheelchair on eBay for £350. It’s great – it’s a proper chair with arms and I can control it.”
This takes the physical strain off Andy, who has had four operations since breaking his back in 1999. A carpenter, joiner and locksmith by trade, Andy now works two days a week doing property maintenance. He also looks after his dad Roy, 88, who suffered bladder cancer five years ago, has memory loss and is showing early signs of dementia.
Andy, who survives on his part-time income and £220 a month PIPS (Personal Independence Payment), says: “I was a lot more down before ellenor got involved with helping my mum.”
ellenor helps patients from Bexley and Kent with life limiting illnesses, and also offers support to their families. Our staff know mental health and wellbeing are as important as physical and medical support. Andy has been given help to manage his own physical pain and has benefitted from counselling sessions.
He says: “I simply don’t know what I would have done without ellenor.”
Betty died peacefully on 11 June 2021, at home, surrounded by her loving family.