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START team - how we helped a customer regain independence

In the early hours of the morning, whilst seeking some refreshment, Mrs Smith tripped in her kitchen. Unable to get up by herself, Mrs Smith lay there until morning. The next day, her milkman raised the alarm and Mrs Smith was admitted to hospital. Mrs Smith spent 8 ½ long weeks in hospital recovering from a number of serious health complaints,compounded by long term health conditions. She longed to get home, but when the time came she didn’t want to leave the hospital. Her main fear was losing the support around her. She said “If I went for a walk on the ward it was reassuring to know that someone was there, should I fall again”.

Upon discharge from hospital, Mrs Smith was met by Monika (pictured right) who works for the Optalis Short Term Assessment and Reablement Team (START). START provide personal and practical support to people in a dignified, caring and respectful way. Mrs Smith  described Monika as “an absolute dear”. Her positive approach and helpful manner immediately put Mrs Smith at ease. Mrs Smith said “It sounds obvious, but Monika took on board what I was saying. She listened to me.”

Mrs Smith had no need for formal support prior to her spell in hospital, and was eager to regain her independence. Her confidence had taken a knock however. The focus of START’s involvement is helping people regain physical ability, but addressing psychological support to build confidence is equally important. The role of the reablement worker is to stand back and encourage people to regain or re-learn the ability to do things for themselves. The presence of the Reablement workers gave Mrs Royle the boost she needed, safe in the knowledge that someone was on hand should she need them. In a short time Mrs Smith's confidence grew: “I said to myself ‘you can do this’ and got on with it.”

The team were able to suggest new techniques that helped her manage better. This gave Mrs Smith confidence in the team’s knowledge and experience. Mrs Smith was thrilled when one of the team, Ruth, suggested a small change in hand position to help her rise from her chair. She said “It took so much effort to get up and now I can do it with relative ease, Ruth really
knows her job”.

START work in close partnership with social work teams and occupational therapists, to help maximise a person’s reablement. Mrs Royle explained how scary it felt having a shower for the first time, after returning home.

An Occupational Therapist advised on the introduction of grab rails, which made all the difference. Quite often small changes can make a big impact on a person’s ability to be self-sufficient.

An on-going shoulder injury meant that Mrs Smith was unable to make use of her integrated microwave, but by simply changing the position to counter-level Mrs Smith was soon able to prepare her own meals. Whilst a change in mattress, to something more firm and supportive, enabled Mrs Smith to return to her bed after sleeping for a time in her arm chair.

After 8 weeks the START service came to end. Mrs Smith reflected “I got to the point where I thought ‘I can look after myself’. Although I was sad to see them go as they were a great team, who did an excellent job.”

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