New service helps Watson (73) to cope after bowel operation
RETIRED farmer Watson Dillon had always led an independent, active life so when an operation left him weakened and unable to manage simple tasks, it was a real blow to the 73-year-old.
However, the grandfather of six, who lives in Brook Road, Portadown, counts himself lucky as he was able to avail of a new health and care service introduced in the area just last July.
Reablement, which has been developed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, helps over-65s learn or regain vital skills necessary for daily living which may have been lost through ill-health or injury. Its aim is to help people do things for themselves rather than having things done for them.
Watson was assessed as being suitable for the Reablement Service following an operation last autumn when he spent five weeks in hospital where he underwent a colostomy and was fitted with a stoma bag, a type of pouch which collects waste products outside the body.
In Watson’s case, the service helped him get back on his feet and into his car again, which is important to him as he is the main chauffeur for wife Sandra, who has health and mobility problems.
More crucially, the reablement staff, along with specialist stoma nurse Lynn Berry, enabled him to come to terms with the practical changes and psychological impact that having a stoma bag entailed.
He said, “It was a very big shock to go from being ‘normal’ to having a stoma bag. Some people can take to it immediately but I didn’t seem to be one of them, so being able to talk to someone and to practice changing the bag was a big help to me.
“I’m getting there eventually but it takes time to build up your confidence to go places. You worry in case you have any accidents.”
The operation also left Watson with a wound across his stomach which meant that anything that entailed bending over, such as putting on socks, was difficult.
He said, “They supplied me with a sock aid, a ‘helping hand’ for putting on my clothes and with a ‘perching stool’ for using at the wash hand basin.
“It’s very hard to sit in the house doing nothing when you are used to being active. Before the operation I attended the Meadows Day Centre two days a week and I would have driven all over to watch my grandsons racing their quads.”
To set Watson on the road to recovery, a treatment plan was agreed between him and occupational therapist Lynn Burns, which initially consisted of daily morning and nightly visits from reablement support workers.
Paula Haughey, co-ordinator for the overall scheme, explained, “A number of goals were agreed with Watson, and reablement support worker Sabrina Maxwell spent time showing him how to use the aids and supervising him while he did these on his own, as well as letting him practice changing the stoma bag. As Watson got stronger and more independent the visits decreased.”
After two weeks, Watson needed help in the mornings only, and by the end of week three, he was able to dispense with the service completely.
However, he needed its assistance again just two months ago when he fell and injured his knee. This time, rails and a shower stool were provided, and Watson needed just a week of help with showering and dressing to help him regain confidence and independence.
Watson, who is originally from Tamiokey, Poyntzpass, is clearly not one to let health problems stand in his way. He suffered the first of seven heart attacks when he was aged 45 and reluctantly had to retire from farming as he believed the long working days - often between 16 and 18 hours - were contributing to his cardiac problems.
However, even a resilient man such as he undoubtedly is, admits that he found it difficult to cope with the period after his release from hospital and adjusting to the changes brought about by his operation.
He said, “I have nothing but praise for the service and my stoma nurse. You can get used to people doing things for you and it’s easy to sit back and let them do it. But there’s nothing like having your independence back again.”
The Reablement Service began in Lurgan in April 2011 and was followed by Portadown in July, with 530 patients having used it so far. It will begin in Armagh this month before being rolled out across the trust over the next year.
Each reablement team is made up of an occupational therapist and seven reablement support workers who have been trained to QCF 3 level, the first time this accreditation has been used in the trust.
The service normally lasts between one day and four weeks, depending on individual circumstances. For those patients not suited to the scheme, the original homecare service still exists.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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