Occupational therapists give Carol a new lease of life

Great-grandmother Carol Jobson is looking forward to the greatest Christmas present imaginable – the chance to go outside.

For the past four years Carol, 73, has been confined to her first-floor flat in Cowley as she battles Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

But now, thanks to the intervention of occupational therapists from Oxfordshire County Council’s adult social care team, Carol is about to be given a new lease of life.

The grandmother of 14 and great-grandmother of four has already been given a new riser-recliner chair to make getting up to stand easier, and a commode on wheels to assist her transfer from bedroom to the lounge.

And within four to six weeks a stairlift will be fitted in her communal hallway to allow her to get downstairs for the first time in years.

Thriving communities

It’s all part of the council’s commitment to thriving communities – enabling older and disabled people to live independently and care for those in greatest need.

“It will be lovely to get out and get some fresh air,” Carol said. “It will just be nice to talk to people. I do find it hard being stuck indoors. I just sit here and watch the TV.”

Carol was a renowned local darts player, winning countless trophies for Exeter Hall in Kidlington, before poor health started to take its toll.

She has suffered three heart attacks and is on oxygen for 15 hours a day. It was after a fall in July, when she was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital for three weeks, that her carer husband Mick decided he required support from the council’s team of occupational therapists.

Mick, 74, worked as an ambulance driver for 16 years and an Oxford Tube driver for 10 years before suffering a heart attack. In recent years an already sore back was becoming worse as he attempted to pull his wife from her chair.

“It’s sometimes hard work and I was getting a bit uptight with all the extra strain on my back,” explained Mick. “It’s made a big difference since we got the new equipment.”

Occupational therapist Clare Parker carried out an assessment at the Jobson’s home on September 12 and the chair and new commode arrived within five days.

A survey of the communal hallway followed which will allow for the installation of the stairlift before the turn of the year.

Practice supervisor Clare, who graduated from Oxford Brookes 10 years ago, said: “It’s lovely to see her being so positive. Her everyday living has already improved and she’s going to get a real benefit from the stairlift.

“It’s nice to get a positive response. The best thing about our job is getting the end result.”

Secret Weapon

Occupational therapists are often described as the ‘secret weapon’ of the health and social care system, helping to reduce hospital admissions, cutting down the length of hospital stays and reducing costs in home-based care.

Clare supervises five therapists within the council’s adult social care rapid response team.

Among them is Parish Rawlins, who graduated from Coventry University in 2015 and joined the council having spent 10 weeks on a student placement in 2014.

Parish explained: “Our role is to assess people’s needs and help them to live as independently as possible. We can also support carers to assist the client within their own home.

“It’s about assessment, intervention and review. We can support the client by providing them with minor pieces of equipment such as rails and mobility aids to major adaptations which can include level access showers and stairlifts.

“There is also a wide range of assistive technology to help clients with their routine and safety at home. Things like pendant alarms to call for assistance, falls detector, door sensors and bed sensors. We can provide a memory prompt device – a screen showing the time and date which will prompt them to take their medication.”

Occupational Therapy Week

Occupational therapists Rebecca Horne and Ruth Alecock were at Oxford’s Central Library on Tuesday helping to raise the profile of the profession as part of Occupational Therapy Week 2018.

Rebecca, who qualified last year from Oxford Brookes University, explained: “The theme of this week is securing the future of the profession by getting out and about and meeting the public. We’re explaining to them what the service is about. In general terms we will go to a person’s home and carry out an assessment to see if there’s any occupational needs.”

Ruth, who qualified from Brighton University 10 years ago and has spent the past two years with the council’s adult social care team, added: “If you’re from the US or Australia they always know what an occupational therapist is because they have to pay for it. Over here it’s not such a well-known role.

“But we’re actually a profession which is helping to save a lot of money. If we can prevent a fall in the home by providing the right sort of equipment we can achieve an awful lot of good.”