‘How am I getting on? How do I feel now?’
Vic is doing very well and on a day-to-day basis he is settled, happy and very comfortable in his own home.
Vic is able to transfer with assistance and to sit safely on his own in his specially designed chair during the day. All his personal needs are met with the support of his carers and by using the specifically designed aids and adaptations in his home. He has a good diet and is able to exercise personal choice over his menu. Vic keeps fit by transferring between his bed and chair / wheelchair, supported by the assistance of two people, whenever possible, and by using his pedal exercise machine every day for a few minutes whilst his lunch is being prepared. Vic is able to sleep safely on his own in the house at night. He is comfortable in his specialised bed and the music Kath has recorded for him to listen to overnight has helped tremendously and they now have very few disturbed nights.
On fine days Vic can get outside into the garden in his wheelchair because a lift has now been fitted to overcome the problem of the stepped access to his front door. Kath also has a wheelchair-adapted car, which means she can take Vic further afield. One advantage of this is that he can make his own way to his medical appointments, which is far more comfortable and convenient than being confined to travelling by ambulance. However, an even greater advantage is that it has enabled Kath to continue to take Vic on outings from time to time. In recent years she has sometimes even driven him to the station and then taken him on longer journeys by train. Two of their most memorable recent adventures are the very proud moment of attending the opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park in 2012, and a family trip down to London to celebrate Vic’s 90thbirthday.
Vic’s medical conditions are well controlled with all his current treatments. Kath is confident and capable of supporting Vic with the management of his long-term conditions, and even some of the more complex and unpredictable acute health events that Vic is susceptible to from time to time, including TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks or ‘mini-strokes’) and urinary tract infections. Vic has not had to go to A&E or been admitted to hospital as an emergency for more than two years. Although Kath is confident in managing many acute situations herself, or with the support of Vic’s professional carers, she is also clear and well-informed about how, when and where to seek further support if necessary.
Vic also has plenty of opportunities to talk to people. He of course receives visits from Kath and his other carers three times a day to help him with his nutritional, personal care and hygiene needs.
However, he also has a regular schedule of other visits and opportunities to talk to people:
- On Mondays Kath sets up a Skype call for him and then ‘leaves him to it’ for an hour or so whilst he talks to his other daughter in Cornwall;
- On Tuesdays a regular volunteer from a local charity called Home Link comes to visit Vic for an hour or so. This charity provides services for the elderly and housebound which are designed to promote independence and social stimulation and offset loneliness and isolation;
- On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays one of Vic’s carers pays him an extra visit each day, but these visits are longer, lasting an hour or so, and instead of their more traditional ‘carers’ role of supporting him with activities of daily living, they spend the time chatting to him and engaging in social activities with him. This has been made possible through the combination of Kath’s careful budget management and the willingness of the team of carers to work in this flexible, responsive and person-centred way.
Kath has helped Vic to collect and organize a fascinating selection of things that he can enjoy looking at and discussing with his visitors, including:
- A diary written during a great adventure in Canada, when he and Joan spent eight weeks travelling around the country;
- Photo albums from many of the holidays he and Joan took all around the world;
- Letters and memorabilia from his time in the RAF, including his own personal RAF log book;
- Other wonderful personal items, such as a letter he once received from Ian Botham and a CD cover signed by Vera Lynn!
- Commercially published ‘memory books’ for different decades of his life that help prompt discussion;
- Jigsaw puzzles from the Alzheimer’s Society that have pieces shaped in size and thickness to make them easier for older people to handle, and that depict scenes from different eras that Vic can relate to, rather like the memory books mentioned above.
In summary, Vic enjoys an excellent quality of life despite living with frailty and dementia. This is very largely because of his motivation and that Kath continues to support him in proactive supported self-care. Vic’s main goals for the future are to continue to live in the safety and comfort of his own home, and, of course, to continue to have plenty of opportunities to talk to people!