Tracey's loving her new independent living

Independent living 1

Crash victim Tracey Jennings is enjoying her newfound independence – and says she’s never felt happier.

Her sister-in-law Jo Jennings provides Tracey with 2½ hours care each day and says she can’t remember seeing her smile so much.

For the first time since her accident 36 years ago, Tracey is living without 24-hour supervision in her North Oxfordshire home and is able to get on with tasks like making her own breakfast, vacuuming, hanging out the washing, and making hot drinks.

This transformation has all come about thanks to a referral to the Adult Social Care team at Oxfordshire County Council.

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

Tracey said: “I’m really happy now – and I’m so grateful to Jo. We get on so well.”

21st birthday spent in intensive care

Tracey was 20 when she was involved in a car accident in Tadmarton. She spent her 21st birthday in intensive care and suffered severe brain damage. She remembers nothing about the crash.

After the sudden death of her parents, friends of the family provided 24-hour care for Tracey for more than 17 years.

But when those friends announced they were moving away, Tracey’s close family had three weeks to find a care solution.

Sister-in-law Jo approached the council’s Adult Social Care team at the end of November and the case was referred to social worker Calum Finch.

Ensuring Tracey’s safety was top priority

Calum explained: “I met with Jo and Tracey’s brother to get an idea of what Tracey could do and what kind of support she needed.

“The main priority has always been ensuring that Tracey feels safe and the family is happy that she feels safe.

“We looked at things like using the phone and how she might respond in an emergency. I felt there were areas where we could increase her independence.

“I broke it down into three parts of the day – morning, lunch and evening – and looked at how she might be able to cope in between those times.

“It was my assessment that Tracey was able to manage her needs for the majority of the day without support, and only required additional regular support for 2½ hours a day rather than the constant monitoring she had before.”

Tracey, 57, was given a pendant alarm to contact the care team at short notice, while Calum and Jo monitored her movements on a ‘Just Checking’ kit during the assessment.

‘Just Checking’ is used in rooms around the house and is another example of the county council’s commitment to using advanced technology to care for people’s needs. It follows on from an innovative trial to reduce loneliness and isolation in 10 homes across Oxfordshire with the installation of Amazon Echo smart technology, a voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service.

Calum said: “Things have gone really well – as well as we could have hoped. It has been a really big change but Tracey seems happy with it. That has been really positive for me to see.”

Move has been a revelation

Jo, 53, admitted she had been ‘petrified’ by the thought of Tracey’s care being reduced from 24 hours a day to 2½, but the move had been a revelation.

“I’d never dealt with social services before, but credit where credit is due, Calum has been an absolute star,” she said.

“Having put plans into place I’ve realised Tracey actually doesn’t need 24-hour care. It’s lovely to see her so independent now and doing things I never imagined she’d be able to do.”

Jo leaves Tracey with a series of prompt cards each day, like ‘hang the washing’, ‘hair wash day today’ and ‘don’t forget to brush those pearly whites’.

The family have installed security cameras to monitor visitors to the property.

“Initially I came for breakfast but we’ve established that Tracey is quite capable of sorting her own breakfast if I put things out on the side for her,” she said.

“It has been about being flexible and ensuring the time I spend with her provides the best quality time. We’ll occasionally go out for brunch or go bowling.

“It has worked out so well. She’s so much happier and smiling all the time.”

Helping people to live independently

Director of Adult Social Care, Kate Terroni, said: “Our whole ambition within Adult Social Care is to support people to live independent lives.

“This is a fantastic example where a social worker, working in partnership with the family, has used advanced technology available to the council to come up with a plan which has enabled Tracey to live independently with a small amount of support.”