About Me Care and Support – Our Stories

Judy’s Story

About Me provides Judy with a support worker called Debbie.

Debbie says:”This is a picture of Judy outside Litchfield cathedral, this is our second trip to Litchfield. Judy has very strong beliefs in her religion and it takes up a big part of her life so going to see the beautiful cathedral and cathedral shops was a wonderful experience. We also went to the Samuel Johnson museum and the Erasmus Darwin House. Judy has shown a lot of interest in the history of both people so it was nice to be able to see their birthplaces and learn more about them.”

 

Self Care Week 2015 – Marshall’s story

Self Care Week takes place between the 16th – 22nd November 2015 and has the theme ‘Self Care for Life.’

Self Care Week is a yearly campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of self care and what people can do to take better care of their own health and well being. The point of the campaign is to promote and encourage more self care across communities, families and generations. About Me supports people to become more independent and in turn help their health and well being.

Marshall has a combined sight and hearing loss which was largely undiagnosed. He also has additional mental health needs. He wanted to make the move from a secure and locked unit in London, where he had been placed for over two years, to a specialist independent living service for deafblind people in Peterborough called Rainbow Court. This was a big move!

Marshall initially required a high level of support during the day and night but over time, with intensive communication support, this reduced to a few hours every day. Marshall is able to take care of himself much more now, making positive choices, which means he remains in a stable home and is less reliant on NHS mental health services. This is his recent story:

I was up early ready for my day out to London at the Notting Hill Carnival. I had been up since 7am. I was very happy and excited.

Self Care Week 2015

I dressed in my new clothes also including the colours of my country of origin (Dominica) and waited for my support workers to arrive.

We travelled by train to London and when we arrived you could hear the music from the steel drums and banjo’s playing.

We stood watching the dancers and the floats going past, they were really brightly coloured and the costumes were great and there were people on stilts. I was enjoying myself dancing away.

I had my photograph taken with one of the dancers who was dressed in a bright costume.

Whilst I was watching the procession some old friends of mine came and spoke to me. I hadn’t seen them for a long time (9 years) and we hadn’t arranged to meet up with them – it was really great to see them.

I also met another friend who was running one of the music stands that I hadn’t seen for a long time.

I had lunch with my friends and there were lots of different food stands to choose from. The smell of the different foods was really great. I chose Ackee and salt fish with rice from one of the stalls.

I had a great day and couldn’t stop smiling all day.

 

Self Care Week 2015 – Jimmy’s story

Self Care Week takes place between the 16th – 22nd November 2015 and has the theme ‘Self Care for Life.’

Self Care Week is a yearly campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of self care and what people can do to take better care of their own health and well being. The point of the campaign is to promote and encourage more self care across communities, families and generations. About Me supports people to become more independent and in turn help their health and well being.

Inspired by Self Care week 2015, Jimmy talks about his love of swimming and how it helps him to stay fit and healthy.

John’s story

I recently visited a motor museum with my About Me support worker in Sparkford, Somerset.John

We got to see about 400 old cars and a few old motor bikes with side cars, it was really interesting. I saw a big posh car built around the 1900’s. In the past, the only driver of this car had been the company boss. He was worth millions of pounds but we weren’t allowed to touch it though!

Alongside the old cars, which our fathers and families drove when we were younger, we also saw a car from the film maker who made Jaws. The car next to it was an early Mini that I remember seeing with my father in the 1960’s. It was very beautiful.

I wish we’d had more time to see them all but it’s such a big place with so much to see. We did leave some time to go and see the motorbikes upstairs. I sat on the newest one and had my photo taken. If I was not deaf and blind then I would have ridden it out of there! Good Life!

Andrew’s story

Andrew is in his late 60’s. He is a profoundly deaf sign language user and registered blind. As many Support Workers know, he is often hesitant about spending time in the outside world. But once out there he displays quite an astonishing knowledge of the things around him and the transport system in his vicinity. The first time we wanted to come back from Sainsbury’s on the bus Andrew correctly waved off two or three buses before selecting the correct one.

Andrew also enjoys using controlled crossings. He always likes to press the button which connects to the traffic lights. With full concentration he focuses his limited sight on the traffic light opposite and as soon as it turns to green Andrew is away. Unfortunately, his walking speed is quote slow so it can be difficult to get across the road before the lights change and Andrew’s Support Worker will then guide him safely across.

Andrew used to like making the journey to Sainsbury’s on his own but he had the misfortune of getting lost on the pedestrian section in the middle of the road. The police did see him walking backwards and forwards looking for a way cross the road and took him home by car. Since then he has been accompanied to the shops by his Support Workers.

Rose’s story

I think if Rose hadn’t been deafblind, she would have been an architect or engineer. Now in her mid-fifties, she spent so long in isolation in a day centre that she is seeing for the first time many things we take for granted.

For instance, Stratford is big on regeneration in the wake of the Olympics. Rose loves the Olympic Park but she is also amazingly interested in the construction of the new apartments in the area. I have had to invent signs for diggers, cranes and those astonishing machines that seem to jump about and flatten the ground. Rose loves them all. Profoundly deaf, the loud machinery is lost to her senses but she likes to see how they work and what they do.

On one occasion when we went to the Science Museum in London, I thought an interactive event might be something that Rose would enjoy, so we went up to the second floor to join the queue. The event, I have to say, started without us. Rose took one look at the aeroplanes and I knew we would be there for the afternoon. I never thought I would be required to find a sign for “crankshaft”.

St Katharine’s Dock, near London’s Limehouse, had in dock some wonderful ships with tall interesting masts and intricate rigging. Rose was fascinated. She signed to me how the sailors might climb the rigging, how the various cogs worked in steering the ship and how the sails might be winched into place. Rose keeps me on my toes by having an excellent eye for detail. She has been able to see the Queen’s gold coach and then draw it from memory. So it wasn’t surprising that Rose spent the tube journey home hoisting the sails and tugging at the ropes using very imaginative sign language.

Richmond-upon-Thames has an extremely good museum where you can press the button on a screen and see the historic buildings in Richmond being designed and constructed. Rose wasn’t content to leave until we had discovered every building we saw displayed in the museum. I feel sure that if Rose had not been born partially-sighted and profoundly deaf then her life would have taken a different path and she would have been designing and creating some of these wonderful buildings she so much admires.

Sister Chris CSF
London Senior Support Worker, About Me

Mr Patel’s story

Mr Patel is a kind, thoughtful man with a good sense of humour. He came originally from Gujarat and now lives with his wife in East London. Until 3 years ago, Mr Patel was very active and would manage a two hour walk without even feeling tired. He told me that for some years, he walked six miles to work, stood up for most of the day serving in a shop and then walked six miles back home.

So it must have been a terrible blow when he was diagnosed in 2011 with Parkinson’s Disease and Glaucoma. The eye problem took his sight away completely and Parkinson’s left him with the effects associated with the disease: tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. When Mr Patel agreed to have an About Me Support Worker his request was simple. All he wanted to do was to go for a walk twice a week. But that walk and all it represented was so important.

We began by walking round the block – a walk which was familiar to Mr Patel but one that he had not done for several months. Our progress was slow but we had our landmarks. Mr Patel would ask me if we had reached the Post Office yet or the local school. As Mr Patel gained in strength and confidence, we extended the walk, moving our goal post as we reached the last one. I believe Mr Patel’s experience of walking long distances has helped. But I also think it has been of benefit to have a Support Worker experienced in guiding and dedicated to that 90 minutes twice a week when the walk is our project. It is something we share and something we both make a commitment to.

The Parkinson’s UK website states that exercise can slow down the progression of Parkinson’s in a way that no other treatment can do. Mr Patel is certainly putting this to the test and with great determination.

Sister Chris CSF
Senior Support Worker for London, About Me

Margaret’s Story

Margaret is in her late 80’s and for many years, she has lived in the heart of the West End. She has age-related macular degeneration and wears hearing aids in both ears. Margaret has been a very active person in her young days. She enjoyed sport, and certainly knows her way around the West End even though she cannot see street namesand bus numbers very easily.

Margaret’s main problems relate to her sight and hearing loss. She has to attend eye hospital and low vision aid clinics as well as optometrist appointments. She also attends hearing appointments and has to have her hearing aids maintained. Notification of these come in by post and are sometimes backed up by a phone call. Margaret struggles to read even large print, and she finds it difficult to hear on the phone. If she writes down a message, she finds it hard to read it back. All this comes on top of the usual communication that we all receive: telephone bills, gas and electricity bills, and appointments for servicing and maintaining equipment that any of us might have in our homes.

Margaret finds it helpful to have a Support Worker from About Me who can sort out her post, file papers, make phone calls, and accompany her to appointments which might otherwise be difficult to get to on her own. There is the social side as well. Margaret’s Support Worker accompanies her on walks to local places of interest, and the two of them can share experiences in a way that makes life more enjoyable.

John’s Story

John Anstey is an About Me customer who often writes to us with updates about his life. Here we are happy to share John’s experiences.

John's Cathedral visit“My First story is about going to church one Sunday a month with my carer, where I have visited the same church through growing up. When I am in the service I am cut off from everything; I only  pick up words being said, but hear noise with my cochlear implant so  it does help. Also I cannot see to read  the books, so I stand and sit when required and relax with all the others. Everyone wants to help me when they notice me with my red and white cane. I always enjoy going to church so much.  Afterwards my carer and I go for a walk outside which I also enjoy.

My next Story is about shopping. Firstly I go shopping  for  food in a very big supermarket with my carer one day a week;  I use a big shopping  trolley that I  push and my carer guides me around the store looking at the shelves for the foods I need. When the shopping  trolley is full and I have all the things I need, I then go to the check out and my carer helps me pack the food into bags and I pay by using my debit card. I struggle to put in my  pin number as I cannot see it, but I feel where the numbers are on the keypad to achieve this. Once shopping task is completed we then make our way back to the car load up and home we go to put the food away.

My other shopping trip is walking around the main shopping centre in the city where I like to stop to have a cup of coffee. During this time we sit and talk about the things I have seen, purchased and liked. I always enjoy going shopping with the help of my carer because I cannot do it on my own due to my disability.”

Daniel’s Story

After a recent trip to Tenerife, we received the following update from Daniel himself:

Daniel in Tenerife“On October the 3rd 2014 I arrived at Newcastle Upon Tyne airport and met with Tegwen Morris and Olu Agbi who were my Support Workers for the next 12 days.  We were going to Adeje, Tenerife on my holiday.

When I’m at home I receive support from About Me to go into the community and socialise. I regularly go to the cinema and to Sunderland Deaf Club, but I had been saving some of my hours in order to go on my holiday without my Mum and Dad,  and now the time had arrived.

We checked in, waited in the Departure Lounge and finally boarded the plane and relaxed into our seats for the flight ahead. We arrived in Tenerife and were guided to our bus which took us to our hotel.  Our apartment was on the ground floor overlooking the shopping precinct but more importantly the sun was out and it was hot.

As we were looking around the hotel complex I was informed about activities which were available, table tennis, billiards, aqua exercise, diving lessons and evening entertainment.

At food times I was given a large choice, and I tried lots of new foods and was able to have as much as I wanted.  At every opportunity I was informed of what was going on, given choices of where I wanted to sit, what I wanted to drink and eat.  I was included in conversations with everyone and met lots of people some form Durham, Hull, Glasgow and Middlesborough.

Mornings were spent sightseeing the neighbourhood and the local beaches; I even went paddling in the sea.  During the afternoons I would go swimming and sit by the pool.  I was a little nervous of the water at first but with the support of a float and my support worker I was able to relax in the water.  During a personal one-to-one session with the lifeguard I was also able to float in the pool on my own.

Daniel in pool in Tenerife

The evening entertainment at the hotel ranged from people singing, dancing, parrots doing tricks, gymnasts, belly dancers and even wild bird displays.  I was allowed to hold two parrots and have my photo taken, and even a wild kestrel landed on the back of my chair during its flight.

On our last night in Tenerife we took a trip in a taxi to Palas De Americas.  We went for a Chinese curry and went to watch the dancing fountain show.

I had a really good time on my holiday with plenty to eat, drink and lots of activities.  I was allowed to make my own decisions, try new things and experience as much of Tenerife as it was possible.  I hope to have another holiday next year.”

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