K is a 54 year old lady who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 10 years ago. She had been living on her own with the support of hourly carers, who were assisting her with meal preparation and domestic chores. She has a supportive family however they do not live locally, visiting whenever they are able. Her family have been particularly concerned about K living on her own, particularly as she has been having more challenges with her mobility.
K is a well-travelled lady with a love of fine art. She ran her own business and keeping her independence and privacy is very important to her.
When we first met with K, she was quite reluctant to have live in care as she was concerned that it would impact on her freedom and privacy, both of which she values highly, she did not wish to have someone ‘watching over her’ all the time. She wanted to be able to go out when she chose by herself, she had very clear likes and dislikes and wished these to be respected. It was agreed that for a short time K would come under our Occupational Therapy Led service to support her in reducing the risk of falling and to work towards maintaining her muscle strength and coordination through an exercise program. K experienced periods of ‘freezing’ and if these occurred when she was standing up she was at risk of falling. This had happened a number of times and was of great concern to K and her family. K was very reluctant to have equipment in her home or to use any walking aids. K had full capacity to make her own decisions about the risks she wished to take and how she wanted them managed. As part of our discussions around risk taking, K and the OT completed a Positive Risk Taking Agreement. This enabled us to discuss and detail the risk of falls and to document K’s wishes as to how she wanted them dealt with. It also allowed us to express our concerns and what we would like to recommend to reduce the risk of K falling. We were then able to draw up a plan that was acceptable to K and ourselves to reduce the risk of falls and to enable K to have the freedom she wished.
K was given the freedom to continue to go out on her own but agreed to keep the carer informed of where she was going and how long she was going to be. She agreed to have her mobile phone with her so that the carer could contact her if there were any concerns. However K and the carer got on so well, that very soon they were going on outings together and K was enjoying having the company and found that this reduced her levels of anxiety around falling making the outings far more enjoyable.
We have now been providing care for K for 3 months, and K and her carer have settled into a comfortable routine. K has not had any further falls and is feeling reassured that there is always someone in the house should she need assistance.
Our carers have to remain flexible and reactive as K can change her plans suddenly, depending on how she is feeling and how her medication is affecting her. She remains independent with her personal care, calling on carers for extra support should she need it.
Having a live in carer has enabled K to continue to live her life as she wishes, taking the risks that she wants but in the knowledge that she has the support when and if she needs it. This has reduced her level of anxiety and her family are reassured that she is safe and cared for.