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Great Yarmouth man forced to wash his wife in the kitchen for 16 months benefits from ‘innovative’ scheme

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

PA Archive/PA Images

A husband who was forced to wash his wife in the kitchen for 16 months has been helped by a scheme designed to maintain independence.

Bob and Sylvia, whose names have been changed due to data protection, moved to Great Yarmouth from Surrey seven years ago.

Following a number of health setbacks, including a heart attack and strokes, Sylvia has limited movement in her left side. She is now blind in her right eye and partially-sighted in her left and has balance issues, leaving her at high risk from a fall. She also has rheumatoid arthritis.

Bob was left with no choice but to wash Sylvia in the kitchen, as stepping over a lip into their shower risked a further fall.

But after 16 months, they were referred to a new service called Healthy Homes Assistance by an occupational therapist.

The scheme, along with another called I’m Going Home, were piloted in Great Yarmouth and are now being rolled out into Waveney.

Since they were launched by Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) in December 2016, the projects have taken 220 referrals from health and social care professionals and saved an estimated 879 hospital bed days by keeping people in their own homes and reducing accidents.

Healthy Homes Assistance sees improvements made to homes such as grab rails, or easily-accessible showers.

The sister service, I’m Going Home, is a short-term solution to enable hospital patients to be discharged as soon as they are well enough to return home, through loaning a 24/7 monitored community alarm and key safe.

Now, Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council have joined with GYBC, Norfolk County Council and commissioners to expand the schemes.

Sylvia is now able to shower independently once her husband has seen her into the shower room. Bob said the new shower room is brilliant and gives him reassurance that she can manage safely. He said: “I would really struggle without it as I have my own back and heart issues. It gives me peace of mind.”

Councillor Andy Grant, chairman of Great Yarmouth’s housing and neighbourhoods committee, said: “These innovative services represent a Holy Grail for the public sector, in joining up health, housing and social care, and they have been highlighted both regionally and nationally as best practice.

“We are proud to have developed this approach in Great Yarmouth and pleased that other partners have seen its huge value in reducing demand on services, and more importantly, in the difference it has made to the lives of vulnerable residents who are at risk of entering hospital or who are in hospital and wanting to go home.

“This partnership approach supports one of the council’s priorities, which is to build stronger, more resilient communities, help improve people’s quality of life, and help existing services to work better together to support vulnerable people.”

Cath Byford, deputy chief officer and director of commissioning at Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Healthy Homes Assistance and I’m Going Home are two projects which are really going to make a difference in the lives of local people. This is also a great example of the power of joined up working, we’re grateful to all our partners for supporting these initiatives.”

Councillor Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and chair of the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “These projects have been a success in Great Yarmouth and it’s really pleasing to hear they will be coming to Waveney, where we can further expand on their successes and provide better support for vulnerable people in the district.”

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