SERVICE USERS' STORIES:
Pauline is originally from Yorkshire. She married a Scot and they moved to Creetown in 1990 to be midway between their two families. Sadly her husband died in 2000 but she did not want to move back south as she felt at home in the community that she felt sure, would 'keep an eye' on her - and so it has proven.
As the years rolled on, Pauline had to go into hospital and on her return home she began receiving support from Crossroads. Originally this was for three visits per day but as she became more able to fend for herself, it was reduced to a morning and a bedtime visit which allow her to continue to live in her own home.
The key purpose of the visits are to help with Pauline's support stockings, without which she would be unable to live independently. The care attendants also help with other things which Pauline finds difficult, and are willing to turn their hands to anything she needs. She gets on well with them all, using words like 'brilliant' to describe the service they give.
She cited instances when the care attendants have gone out of their way to help her, and praised the way the Crossroads care attendants who live in the village arranged to divide it up between them to ensure that everyone was visited and taken care of, when the recent heavy snow hit the area.
Pauline summed up her feelings about Crossroads by saying that she could not do without the service. She looks forward to the care attendants' visits and enjoys their chat.
Tracy is the carer of her daughter, Kayleigh.
She moved to the Isle of Whithorn with her family in 1992, to run a B & B business. Kayleigh was born here and was diagnosed with a condition called Sanfilippo, just before her eighth birthday, in 2001. This is a very rare inherited disease of metabolism.
Initially, Tracy received a little respite care from Crossroads, but this has increased over the years as Kayleigh's symptoms have became more severe and demanding. When she left school, it was necessary to cover the hours that Kayleigh had spent there, and we now deliver 5-7 hours seven days a week, plus 3 nights, as Kayleigh is wakeful throughout. Two care attendants care for Kayleigh during the day as care is provided outwith the home, while one is on duty overnight as Tracy can be called upon to help if necessary.
The seven care attendants work a rota and take Kayleigh to a variety of activities each week. These include swimming, attendance at the ARC in Newton Stewart and visits to attractions in the area. Tracy believes that the stimulation provided adds quality to Kayleigh's life and has helped to prolong it. Likewise, the need for a good walk each day is essential to keep Kayleigh mobile – as Tracy put it 'if you don't use it you'll lose it' - so she insists on this, and the care attendants ensure it happens.
Tracy's relationship with the care attendants and with the management team is very good. She feels confident that her care attendants look after Kayleigh well and describes them as excellent. They communicate well with Kayleigh and respond appropriately to her moods - trying to fit suitable activities to them. Tracy also knows that if she needs to discuss anything with the management team, she just has to ring the office to speak to someone.
Tracy has never considered changing care provider. Personalisation has given her more control over Kayleigh's care, but she continues to employ Crossroads. She feels that the care attendants know Kayleigh well and, in turn, Kayleigh likes being with them. They seem to enjoy their work and in some ways have become part of the family.
Vera has long-standing connections with Wigtownshire. She worked as a farm secretary for several years and left the area only because her mother was ill and needed her at home. Also, her husband was from the Newton Stewart area, so it was a natural decision to move back here when they retired and he had fallen ill.
Vera also goes back a long way with Crossroads. Initially, while living in Staffordshire she became the carer of her husband, and received 5 hours per week respite from the local Scheme. After she and her husband returned to Newton Stewart, she was put in touch with Crossroads (Newton Stewart and Machars) Care Attendant Scheme by her GP, and received the same allocation of hours, which she was able to use flexibly – often as a block to enable her to go to Ayr or Dumfries. Her husband enjoyed the visits of the care attendants and of our manager, Mrs Gorman, who became a family friend.
When her husband passed away, Vera wanted to give something back to Crossroads so she joined the management committee, later becoming a director of the Scheme. She served for many years, bringing the carer's perspective to the deliberations and decisions of the Board as well as being involved in a wide variety of roles from recruitment of staff to fund-raising. Her input was invaluable.
After several joint replacement operations, the wheel has turned full circle and Crossroads is once again supporting Vera – this time to enable her to remain living in her own home. When care was needed, she had no hesitation in asking for Crossroads and has nothing but praise for her care attendants and the management staff. In order to cover the visits required, Vera was asked to accept a male care attendant. She was a little reticent about this at first, but has found the arrangement perfectly satisfactory. She says “All the care attendants are sensitive and willing to help in any way they can to do what is needed”. She enjoys their company and looks forward to their visits.
Keith and his wife, Brenda, moved to Newton Stewart in 2000.
A few years later Brenda began to have health problems. She overcame breast cancer but shortly afterwards became unsteady on her feet and started falling over. She was initially diagnosed with Parkinson's disease but this was later changed to the rare condition, progressive suprauclear palsy (PSP).
As in all cases of PSP, Brenda's condition deteriorated and Crossroads began supporting the couple when she was no longer able to do things for herself, and Keith had become her carer. Initially our care attendants made two visits a day to get Brenda up and showered and then to put her to bed. Latterly, to ensure Brenda's comfort, four visits were necessary with two care attendants for each visit.
Keith cared for his wife at all other times. Speaking of our care attendants, he says that he “couldn't have managed without them” and that “all the girls were brilliant”. He recalls one in particular who would stay for a cup of tea to talk to Brenda after her work was done.
In addition, Crossroads were able to provide respite care to allow Keith some time to himself. He used his allocated time regularly to attend the local Probus club and the remainder flexibly to involve himself in activities arranged by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers. Care attendants also stayed overnight to look after Brenda so that Keith could go away for a few days.
He also found the office staff approachable and helpful and tells of the time when Brenda fell and he needed help. The statutory services were unable to help, so he called the Crossroads office and a care attendant was dispatched to assist him.
Sadly, Brenda passed away in 2012 and Keith found it especially hard as all the support stopped suddenly. He has now picked up the threads of his life, however, and is involved in community projects as well as being able to visit his family.
TO MANY.. CROSSROADS IS JUST A TV SOAP,
TO SOME AGED AND INFIRM IT OFFERS HOPE,
A BAND OF DEDICATED AND CARING SOULS,
ALL PERFORMING SIMILAR ROLES,
ABOUT THEIR TASKS WITH SMILES AND CHARM,
THEY CARE FOR YOU AND DODGE THE HARM,
THEY CLEAN YOU, DRESS YOU AND THEN THEY COOK,
NEVER KNOWN TO HAVE A SOUR FACED LOOK,
ALWAYS WILLING AND KEEN TO PLEASE,
LITTLE PROBLEMS DEALT WITH EASE,
SO WELL DONE CARERS - PRESENT AND PAST,
WE HOPE YOUR VENTURE WILL LAST AND LAST.
Written by a Service User who wishes to remain anonymous
Lines to Crossroads Attendants 2015
Lotioned and potioned, creamed and perfumed,
My Crossroads attendants ensure I am groomed.
Each day starts the same, with good humour and smiles.
I may read my paper or book for a while,
Wait for the postman - or make a few calls,
My telephone friends think I’m rarely alone
As I frequently tell them “you must excuse me -
I’ll talk to you later - someone’s come in!”
Crossroads come alone, or paired, perhaps tripled,
Keep up my spirits, as do a measure
Of sherry, Campari, madeira, Martini!
I hear small talk of rotas and shifts and
Making an entry (but not through a door)
It can only be read in the Red Book of Lore
That’s no work of fiction, it’s true as can be
Come see for yourself - it’s beyond me!