Reablement – Pats’ story

My wonderful social worker ( yes they do exist) asked if she could bring out a ‘reablement’ Occupational Therapist  to see how she could help me.

I didn’t know what  ‘reablement’ meant although I could hazard a guess. I looked the word up in my dictionary and it didn’t exist. That should have been a warning.

I won’t repeat my medical history but suffice to say I am still blind, David still has a broken back, chronic pain and depression. I am still his full time carer. The clues are all there so let’s see how this ‘reablement’ bod picks up on them.

I had an bit of a slip recently, where I fell over nothing in particular, badly shattering my ankle. Pins and plates are stopping it from flapping in the breeze and my spare one is causing concern too. I have a trusty folding walking frame to help with hoppability because I can not put any weight on it for at least 6-8 weeks. The surgeon would be even happier if I didn’t put weight on either leg. A toe to knee cast keeps it from moving and a long strong support bandage on the other leg. Almost a matching pair.

So a visit by a ‘reablement’ OT was arranged. What and how was she going to help? I was fascinated.

Thingy arrived (can’t remember her name) who disliked dogs. No problems apart from taking me 15 mins to move them to a different room. Thingy was studying me to see how I moved. Rounding up 2 over enthusiastic Border Collies was like pushing jelly up hill. Obedient to a T this stranger in the camp, who was getting a little agitated, was far more fun than Mum trying to open doors, hop through without them dashing back to greet her. I collapsed, exhausted and in pain, into my chair.

Apparently oblivious to the pain incurred by trying to hop, thingy asked to see our showering facilities, The dogs, staring through the glass door saw an opportunity to do greetings again. By now my feet were hurting badly but the shower was duly inspected and found to be adequate.

Repeat process although by now the dogs had decided there was no point in playing their games anymore.

Thingy asked if there was any help I thought I needed? This was showing promise by now and I said,,,everything.  Pegging out washing was a problem for me. I use David’s outside trundler, balancing the wash basket on the seat, perching the broken ankle and scooting. She gasped and put fingers in ears. Surely David can do that…after all the exercise will be good for his back ache?

I felt my hackles rise. Composing myself I moved on to cooking and how I tucked plates under my arm and hopped with boiling kettle to tea mugs.

By now the fingers were stuffed so far into the ears I swore they were meeting in the middle.

Men make excellent cooks and your husband would enjoy that. Give him something to do instead of sitting around watching you struggle dangerously. Clearly too many finger stuffing in ears had prevented thingy from listening to our case history.

Up to this point, social worker who had been quietly making notes, felt the urgent need for intervention. She explained about my sight and David’s degenerating illness plus my roll as his carer and how much I have to do for him. She also explained how David had struggled for weeks, in my absence, to keep on top of everything and was now paying the price. I wanted to kiss her. (And she loves my Collies!)

Unphased by this very relevant information we moved to the back door. We have a deep step between the kitchen and utility room. I place my frame on the utility floor and hop down. To get in I come up backwards. Ungainly but it works and the alternative is to live in the shed. Thingy covered her eyes as well as fingers in ears. Not easy but she managed it. Her suggestion? A grab rail to one side and with a demonstration with the yard broom she looked like a fireman sliding down the pole. Even more unsafe and unstable than my backwards hop.

So this was ‘reablement’ and when I asked what was the idea behind all these circus tricks, I was told it was to get me back on my feet as soon as poss. But I don’t have a good foot and surely it is best to let the healing process be decided by Mother Nature with the help of experts in the field of orthopaedics? Not a ‘reablement’ OT who was a walking advert for Health and Safety?

David was expected to help with all my wants thus saving the need for home carers. Is someone having a larf? Thingy wanted to check the equipment issued to me was being used properly. That amounted to a toilet frame but I duly obliged by sitting on it. The other ‘equipment’ was my trusty folding frame, complete with wheels at the front and skis at the back, and came with me from Australia as there is nothing suitable in this country. She suggested crutches but I can’t see the ends and have no idea where I am sticking them. Yes but…she started and I knew then where I would have found to stick them.

Sometimes my sense of humour and love of life is stretched to its very limits. Thingy’s total lack of understanding at our situation was unbelievably incompetent. She had boxes to tick and greater people than her have found out before we don’t fit those boxes.

Thingy left with the promise to return next week while David and social worker looked at each other wondering why? Me?  I was hopping off to make a cuppa and find a better use for the yard broom.


5 Responses to “Reablement – Pats’ story”

  1. judy Says:

    Words fail me. Well, actually, they don’t, but the ones that come to mind are probably not printable. What planet do these people live on?!!!!!!! I swear they are not human.

  2. Loan Ranger Says:

    Great writing from you Pat. We’ve heard of “the blind leading the blind” however, whereas you are diagnosed as severely blind, what’s “Thingy’s excuse?”. Incompetence I guess.

  3. silver Says:

    Wander what college course she took.The life and times of a Tory Activist.

  4. Mozza Says:

    Pat – Perhaps next time the social worker could make the tea?

    Mo x

  5. hairybiker Says:

    What a wally! Very well written Pat. I have this lasting mental image (a cartoon but I am no good at art) of the OT saying “now lets see you use the toilet seat” you saying “try holding your nose as well as stuffing your fingers in your ears dear” lol

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