A day in the life....
The many ways in which a Support Worker can make a difference
Every client is different and needs support in different ways, so there is no ‘typical’ client. But one example of how we support our clients is Steve*. He was referred to us by his Clinical Nurse Specialist.
by Jayne Hodges
Brain Tumour Support Worker
I initially supported Steve via telephone and text but then he plucked up the courage to come to a support group meeting. He told the group that he felt isolated due to having to finish work, unable to no longer drive, friends had disappeared and his only sibling, a sister, lived a two-hour drive away.
At his first support group meeting he appeared unsteady on his feet and used a stick. He told the group that, due to weight issues, he was unable to have surgery. Although he was new to the group, he was very open and honest about his situation and did this with a great sense of strength and humour. Over the next four weeks I was in regular contact with Steve, who was already looking forward to his second group meeting.
But before the next meeting, he told me he had been admitted to hospital after two falls. When he attended the meeting, it was quite visible that he was very unsteady and he admitted that he had become reluctant to move around his home as he was scared of falling again. He told me how low he was feeling and that he was worried about shopping for food and going to planned appointments. We discussed shopping online and support services that may be able to help and assist.
Steve is diabetic and I was concerned about how he would manage at home. Was he eating and drinking properly? Was he able to take care of his personal needs? He is a very sociable person and I was worried that the change in his physical health would also impact on his emotional health. He agreed to let me contact the clinical team to see if an occupational therapist’s home assessment was appropriate to enable him to move around the home safely.
I spoke to the clinical team and to the hospital where he had been admitted for the two falls to see what the outcome was. After discussion with the hospital, I completed my duty of care to Steve and highlighted any concerns to the relevant medical teams.
A day later, I received a call to say that Steve needed to be admitted to hospital the following day as he needed to have surgery. As I had a good rapport with him I was asked if I would assist and contact him to discuss going to hospital.
I tried to contact Steve, but after not being able to reach him, I became worried. I contacted the Clinical Nurse Specialist to share my concerns and she agreed if we hadn’t heard from Steve by a certain time we may have to inform the police/ambulance service to check on him.
After notifying the police and ambulance service, Steve eventually returned my call. He explained that he had become very sleepy and had been sleeping more recently. He did not want to go to hospital the next day because he had other appointments arranged. I reassured him that I would assist with rearranging appointments. I explained that going to hospital was important to his wellbeing and recent falls and that the Clinical Nurse Specialist would be calling to further discuss and answer any questions he may have.
After speaking to Steve, the Clinical Nurse Specialist updated me and asked if I would call him later that evening just to check everything was ok for admittance to hospital. I then spoke to Steve and we went through planning for the next day. I reassured him that the hospital had arranged transport and any upcoming appointments would be rearranged. I also offered to visit him in hospital because I knew he lived alone and was feeling isolated. I visited him just before his surgery and made sure he knew that he was not alone. His surgery went well and he is currently recovering at home.
I later met his neuro surgeon who personally thanked me for my input, the support I gave Steve and the part I played in supporting the medical team for a positive outcome. She expressed how crucial my input had been to everyone concerned. The Clinical Nurse Specialist also thanked me for all that I had done to assist the patient and the team.
As a Brain Tumour Support Worker, I come in contact with some incredibly strong, brave and courageous people. I feel extremely blessed and privileged that I am allowed to share in their journey which can often be very diverse and challenging, be they patients or loved ones and carers.
By allowing me to get to know them, their circumstances and often their many challenges, I can hopefully make a difference. That’s why I love my job, if only to make a small difference.
*name changed to protect identity
Jayne's post is part-funded by Macmillan Cancer Support