A Sunderland woman is reclaiming her confidence, after a specialised community-based team helped connect her with the care she needed.

Dolly Davison*, 79, from Hetton, saw her world change when her husband died suddenly. He had always managed the couple’s finances and affairs as well as managing the behaviour of their adult son, Richard, who sometimes struggles to cope with life’s demands .  Dolly saw her quality of life and health decline, and found it difficult to manage her new independent way of life.  After her son assaulted her, Dolly was left distraught, and it was then that her health began to quickly deteriorate.

“It was horrible.  Richard has problems and didn’t realise the harm he was doing us both, he had me at rock bottom.  I felt emotionally drained and it started to really affect my health,” said Dolly, who has since been diagnosed with a number of long-term health conditions.

Dolly was referred from an MDT meeting to the Living Well Link service – delivered by Age UK Sunderland – to help her get the social stimulation she needed to get her life back on track.  Part of the All Together Better Sunderland programme – which was set up to deliver joined-up care for some of the most unwell people in Sunderland – the Living Well Link Workers are part of Community Integrated Teams (CITs), who deliver community-based care, alongside health and social care professionals.  Together, the teams focus on the needs of vulnerable people in the local community, providing a person-centred approach designed to keep them living as well, and as independently as possible.

Her Living Well Link Worker, Karen Fantarrow, completed the Age UK Sunderland LWL assessment and activation plan which identified significant support could be offered to improved Dolly’s health and wellbeing.  Dolly was not receiving the correct level of pension and disability allowance, her living conditions were poor and she had a number of undiagnosed health problems.  Karen was also able to signpost Dolly to support to access the correct financial support, a local charity where she received a grant for white goods, and to her local GP, who helped diagnose the medical conditions she had been living with, without help.

lwl-sharon-quinn-karen-fatarrow-nicola-hamilton-vicky-gilmore-mary-leatherbarrowWorking together, Dolly and Karen devised a plan to tackle her issues, encouraging her to accept a referral to Telecare for equipment that would allow her to summon help in a crisis situation.

Dolly lacked confidence, so Karen also accompanied her to a number of appointments with healthcare professionals.  After visiting her GP, she was diagnosed with COPD, a condition which needs to be medicated and monitored on a regular basis.

The support provided by Karen has given Dolly a new-found confidence, and she now finds it easier to manage the COPD programme set out by her nurse practitioner at her local GP surgery.

Dolly said: “I don’t know where I would be without Karen.  She has helped me come to terms with the problems in my life and to direct me to the help and support I needed within my local community.”

Dolly and her son now receive intense support from the local CIT, a multi-disciplinary team of people providing care in the community, including her Living Well Link Worker, who supports her every step of the way.

Karen, the Living Well Link Worker in Dolly’s locality, said: “Dolly and her son are in a far better place now, having had input and support from the Community Integrated Team.  It has had a huge impact on their lives; they are being continually supported to ensure their relationship does not break down and progress is maintained, while tackling the health problems they both live with.”

*Not her real name.