About Me Care and Support – Our Stories

Anne’s Story

Anne (right) and Debra (left) at Debra's birthday lunchAnne was born deaf and lost her sight when she was in her 60’s due to  Usher Syndrome; a condition which among other things causes the progressive degeneration of the retina. Now, aged 74, Anne’s life is very different and she communicates using tactile Deafblind Manual.

Family has always been important to Anne and in the early days of diagnosis, her two daughters helped her husband to care for her, supporting her to do day to day things. However, the time came when they wanted to just be Anne’s daughters again and enjoy time together as a family, rather than being her carers. About Me Care and Support (About Me) from Deafblind UK now supports Anne whilst giving her family a well deserved break.

About Me support workers help Anne to feel included in every day life. They support her to do jobs around the house, like washing and cleaning and also to do everyday things that many of us take for granted, like going to the hairdressers, painting her nails or just having a coffee and a chat.

Tegwen (right) talking to Anne (left) using Deafblind ManualAnne has always been determined to continue an ordinary life but having no sight or hearing together with a curvature of the spine, means that she is limited in what she can do. So when she wanted to take her daughter Debra out for her birthday, Anne’s support worker, Tegwen, was able to help. Tegwen took Anne and her husband Eric to collect Debra before heading to a country pub for lunch. Anne thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her daughter; she was absolutely delighted that she was able to treat Debra for her birthday like so many other mums do, but which is so difficult for Anne.

Catching up with friends is also something that, whilst an ordinary activity for most, is especially tricky for Anne. So when she heard that one of her old school friends, Margaret, was now in the area, Tegwen contacted Margaret’s care home and arranged for Anne to visit. Anne and Margaret hadn’t been in touch for over a year, but despite Margaret having dementia, she instantly recognised Anne and they were delighted to see each other. Tegwen helped the two friends to communicate with each other in a very emotional reunion!

Anne’s condition has left her with very little confidence, but knowing that she can still do things that she used to enjoy has given her a huge boost. Tegwen said: “It’s great to see her do things for herself again like spending time with family and friends, and requesting what she would like to do without being prompted.  When she proves to herself that she can still do what she wants to do it spurs her on to plan the next activity. She is now planning her husband’s birthday party, unbeknown to him!”

Pat’s Story

PatPat was born with the effects of Rubella. She is partially sighted and has no 3D vision. Her hearing was also damaged and although she wears two hearing aids, she tends to feel sound rather than hear it. She now communicates using British Sign Language (BSL).

Pat, from London, has been supported by About Me Care and Support (About Me) for 10 years. Specialist support workers, who are BSL qualified, visit Pat in her home three times a week and help her to get out and about in her local community, something that she isn’t able to do on her own. But with her support workers, Pat has witnessed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, gone halfway up the Shard at London Bridge, had a ride on a pink bus at the Olympic Park and enjoyed many experiences she would never otherwise have dreamed of.

So Pat was delighted when support worker, Sister Chris, suggested they visit the world famous Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club. Sister Chris said: “Most of the place was inaccessible at that time of the year, but we were allowed to enter by Gate 4, go into the shop and mill around a small area near the Centre Court.

“Pat’s sight is limited, but she noticed a large roller on display. About 100 years ago, it was used to roll the grass courts and it was horse-drawn. Pat is a sign language user, and so my signed explanation drew quite a gathering.

“However, our best moment came when we stood near one of the green boards indicating the matches in the various courts. Obviously, there were no names on the boards, but all the way down we could see a row of white ‘Vs’. “What does that mean?” asked Pat. Now, how was I to describe the word “versus” in BSL? After a moment’s thought, I placed Pat one side of the ‘V’ and I stood facing her on the other side. I finger-spelled each of our names and indicated that they were on the board and that we were playing in Court 10. The ‘V’ represented a tennis net.

“Pat picked up on the action immediately and she was delighted. She was actually playing tennis at Wimbledon and her name, although nobody could see it, was on that board. And signing with the rich imagination of a BSL user, she began serving and swinging her tennis racquet in time with our imaginary volley.

“You can never be self-conscious when you’re working with someone like Pat, especially when she practices her volleys on the tube and tells her friends and acquaintances “we played tennis at Wimbledon!”

“This experience has helped Pat to feel part of an event which is world famous. Everything we experience together helps to build her confidence and make her feel that her sight and hearing impairment is not a barrier to anything she wants to do.” Concluded Sister Chris.

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