Case studies

A move to Cyprus

Miss P, a 73-year-old lady had been living in Camden for 35 years with her sister and her sister’s family. She had come to London after the troubles in Cyprus. She worked and helped her sister who was divorced to raise her family. She never married. Both she and her sister Maria were members and regularly came to the Centre and loved coming on outings and trips.

In February of this year her sister died, leaving Miss P devastated. I made several home visits to help her sort out her affairs, her niece and nephew although supportive had married and moved away so she was on her own.

It took time for her to come to the Centre following the death of her sister. The workers and volunteers at the Centre called her often to see how she was and offered much-needed support. Slowly she felt more confident and eventually she came to the Centre.

She came more and more often to see me. She became troubled as her younger sister from Cyprus, who she had not seen for 15 years, was phoning her regularly suggesting that she go to Cyprus to live with her. Miss P was worried, confused and apprehensive about the prospect, but was considering it. I advised her about her benefits and assured her that I would help her to arrange her affairs over here and to make her move as easy as possible. She was comforted by that.

Miss P’s sister came to London in August and she came with Miss P to the Centre. She was so grateful that Miss P had our Centre to come to and how much the support and practical help was appreciated. Miss P decided she would go to Cyprus to live as her health was not getting any better and she knew that she would have family to look after her.

I helped Miss P to arrange all her affairs with her pension, housing, utilities, bank accounts etc. so that by the time she was due to leave in September she felt fine and ready to go.

Miss P has telephoned the Centre several times to let us know how she is. She is settled and happier and keeps telling us how grateful she was for the support.

A fall

Mr O, an 80-year-old man living in Kentish Town, was referred to me by the Royal Free hospital social work team. He had had a fall at home, falling awkwardly on his shoulder and breaking his arm. He had been to hospital and contact had been made with his daughter as his wife spoke little English. I was asked to do a joint home visit with the Camden access team.

I visited Mr O, his wife S was well known to me, she came to the Centre occasionally. From the onset, it was clear that Mr O was quite demanding and that his wife spent most of her time running around looking after him. An assessment was made. He did not need a care package and he was referred to the occupational therapist with whom I was going to liaise for some equipment.

The social worker and I noticed that the flat had many risks e.g. old carpets and rugs and lots of clutter. I informed her that I would speak to the family to see if something could be done as this could have contributed to his fall. I said I would come back on another day to discuss this issue.

I spoke with S and their daughter L, who came to the Centre one day with her mum. We had a long talk. Her father was getting better, they both acknowledged that he was difficult and liked to keep everything, therefore causing the clutter and S was concerned that he will have another fall and not be so lucky. Even she felt a bit unsafe as she had become a bit weak on her legs.

I explained that we did a project about falls prevention and part of this was to look at the home, carpets, furniture, footwear and clutter. I gave them information and leaflets that we produced and a pair of non-slip slippers each as an incentive to look at their home environment.

Several weeks later S came to the Centre. She had a smile on her face and we had a long chat. She was positive, her husband liked the slippers and is making an effort after reading the leaflets to clear up some of his things. They replaced the old carpets and rugs. There was a way to go, but S was very pleased. She felt so much better and she thought her husband felt better although he wouldn’t admit it.

Mrs K

Mrs K C was 76 years old and had been living in Camden for over 40 years. She was a widow and lived alone since her family moved away. She has been a member of the Organisation for many years and has been quite mobile and active in the life of the Centre.

About 6 months ago, staff and some members started to notice that she had become a little slower when walking or doing activities and was a bit forgetful. Some days she would not come to the Centre as normal, her friends became aware and concerned as she always said she was ok but a little tired.

Staff monitored her for a while, I contacted her daughter who was really unaware of her mother’s possible condition following a chat. I suggested Mrs K may benefit by getting a checkup from her GP. I also spoke to Mrs K who opened up to me to say that she felt very tired and finding life difficult and she also felt lonely. I reassured her that we are here for her, she commented “I love the Centre, I get so much support from you, I do not know what I would do without you. You understand.”

It was clear that she was depressed along with other medical conditions. Contacting her daughter again, she arranged to take her to the GP.

One Monday, Mrs K’s daughter called me to report on the GP visit. She was so pleased that we had taken the time to help her mum. Her mother has diabetes and will be sent to the memory clinic for investigation.

Everyone is happy to see Mrs K back on her feet and coming to the Centre once more and participating. We often talk; she still needs support but much better in herself than before.

Mrs K’s health and wellbeing have improved.

Supporting a carer

Mr P 80 and Mrs M, 76, have lived in Kentish Town since 1974 coming to London after the troubles in Cyprus. They came with their two sons. Mr P opened a barber’s shop in Camden. Until 7 years ago he still went to the shop, which one of his sons now runs.

Mr Ps had had a stroke three years earlier and his health had deteriorated. His wife had become his full-time carer. We had helped the couple in the past with benefits and Mrs M has been a member for years. They came on outings and holidays with centre which they enjoyed enormously as in recent years they needed more and more support. Mrs M still comes to the Centre when she can as she still likes to feel a little independent and do her own thing. She likes to see the other women and relax a bit.

One day Mrs M came to me; she was upset. I sat her down with a cup of tea and she talked to me at length. She was finding it very difficult coping with her husband. She had been a dedicated carer, even though she also has health problems. She has done everything for him, her family are busy and she does not like to ask for help. After speaking to her and taking a few details, seeing how she felt, her needs, and his needs etc. we agreed that I would make a referral to get him assessed for extra help with his home care. She would discuss this with him and the family as it would be a great help to her to have someone take some of the burden off her for a time.

Following the assessment, he did have a high level of need, so a care package was put in place and a referral to O/T resulted in a number of aids including a bath chair which makes Mrs M’s life much easier as well as Mr P’s bathing more comfortable as he is less fearful of getting in and out of the bath. He also has a wheelchair now which enables him to get out a bit.

There has been an impact on both Mrs M and Mr P. His quality of life has improved and he has accepted the extra carer. He feels more secure and less isolated.

Mrs M feels much better now, she is not so stressed and copes better now. She finds time to come to the centre and we keep in touch by phone. They have even managed to come on an outing this summer to the seaside. We took his wheelchair and volunteers helped while we were there. They both loved the day out and could not thank us and the volunteers enough.