• People's stories Interviews with people getting attendant care, family members, workers . . .
  • Alana Alana had a serious car accident aged 14. She has a brain injury.
  • Rob Rob had a stroke. He was in a nursing home and now lives at home.
  • David David had a car accident when 20. He has a brain injury. He has returned to work and to driving.
  • Karel Karel had a bicycle accident. He has a fractured spine. He lives with his wife. They are in their 80s.
  • Emma Emma was hit by a car. She has a brain injury and needs 24 hour care.
  • Christakis Christakis' head went back in a car accident and he broke his neck. He lives with his wife.
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Emma, her family and worker

Emma

In March 2011 Emma & her newborn baby had a serious accident. The first time out walking with Eloise in a pram they were hit by a car.  Emma was flown straight up in the air, landed on head. She had a fractured skull.  Emma was airlifted to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; the baby was taken to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick. Emma was in intensive care and then 2 or 3 months in a brain injury ward.  She has very serious injuries. When she left hospital she went to live at her father’s and step mother’s house.  She needs 24 hour care seven days a week.

  • Emma
  • Keith, Emma’s father
  • Loraine, Emma’s step mother
  • Cherie, Emma’s community support worker

Picture:
Emma and her father

We could have carers 24 hours, but we decided that the 12 hours between 7.30 at night and 7.30 in the morning, which is 90% of that time Emma is in bed, we could handle that ourselves… Just to give us a break, you know, a bit of normality in home. I think the biggest impact is probably on Loraine, not on me.

     Keith, Emma’s father

Why it was so hard for me,  it wasn’t the carers themselves, because they’ve all been good and nice. I had to learn to step back and let them do what they had to do without butting in and trying to help them...  You know, they go to do something and I’ve already done it. But I did learn to step back and relax more. I wasn’t relaxed. I felt that once they come in the morning I had to be up, and had to make sure Emma’s clothes were all there, what she was going to put on for the day. And as time’s gone on I don’t do that anymore. I let the carers get on with their work.

     Loraine, Emma’s step mother

As a support worker I do feel like we are in a very privileged position. We are being let into people’s private life, people’s private homes. You become… Like you are quite aware that you are entering somebody’s home and you do have to have a certain level of I guess in your mind you think “I’m here in a professional manner . .  I’m here for a purpose . .
I really like the days that you can help you client achieve a goal that they’ve really been working towards for a long time. I think it’s really satisfying to be in a role where you are helping people to live independently and fulfil their potential whatever their potential might be. I think, just assisting people to be the best that they can be is extremely rewarding.

     Cherie, Emma’s community support worker

           

 

     Emma's Story (11 mins)

     

Click on image to go to video

Full text of the video Emma's Story

ON SCREEN: Emma’s story. In 2011 Emma & her newborn baby Eloise had a serious accident. The first time out walking with Eloise in a pram they were hit by a car.

KEITH: Emma had a car accident in early March 2011 she was walking along the Princess Highway at St Peters a car mounted the kerb and hit her and Eloise. And consequently she was in coma at RPA for roughly three months and then she was transferred to Royal Ryde Rehab and she was there for about twelve months.

ON SCREEN: After leaving hospital Emma came to live with her father and step-mum.

CHERIE: They're all good? They're pleased to see you?

EMMA: They were.

KEITH: We brought her home here. So now Emma is here full time until she’ll be able to, we hope, live on her own with carers

CHERIE: Alright Emma. Can you please tell me two meanings for the word “MATCH”.

EMMA: It’s like a game or whatever.

CHERIE: OK. So, like a game.

EMMA: To light something.

ON SCREEN: Cherie is one of a team of support workers who assist Emma.

CHERIE: OK. To light something. What do you use?

EMMA: Match.

And Cherie is one of your care workers?

EMMA: Yes, she is.

What does she do?

EMMA: She helps me dress and do things, do things that need to be done like dressing, showering, eating. You do lots of things, lots’ of things.

ON SCREEN: She helps me dress and do things, do things that need to be done. Like dressing, showering, eating… You do lots of things, lots of things.

So, Cherie, today what are all the things you’ve worked through today?

CHERIE: Today we have when I came on a shift… small sips, OK?.. We completed all Emma’s personal care needs including all showering, dressing, grooming, that kind of thing. Emma is really quite good, very actively involved in a lot of it. My role is simply to assist the areas that Emma struggles with. We went to… I also transport Emma to and from appointments and things like that. So, today we went to the gym. Emma worked really hard there and I think that’s why she’s a bit tired now.

EMMA: Yes, I’m dead.

CHERIE: But other than that like eating and drinking, a lot of it is just supervising Emma to make sure that she is safe.

EMMA: Yes.

CHERIE: Doing things like prompting Emma.

EMMA: So I don’t choke.

ON SCREEN: So I don’t choke…

CHERIE: Pardon?

EMMA: Don’t choke.

CHERIE: So, you don’t choke. What do we have to say to you so you don’t choke on drinks?

EMMA: Small sips.

ON SCREEN: Small sips…

CHERIE: What do we have to say so you don’t choke on food?

EMMA: Small bites.

On SCREEN: Small bites…

CHERIE: That’s it. And just trying to ensure that Emma safely does things like standing up from a chair, sitting down on a chair. Using certain prompts that help Emma remember how to do those things correctly.

CHERIE: Is that just about summed it up?

EMMA: Yes.

CHERIE: Would you like to add anything?

EMMA: No.

CHERIE: OK.

ON SCREEN: Emma has support workers to assist for most of her waking hours

CHERIE: Can you tell me two meaning for the word “SPRING”?

KEITH: We could have carers 24 hours, but we decided that the 12 hours between 7.30 at night and 7.30 in the morning, which is 90% of that time Emma is in bed, we could handle that ourselves without… Just to give us a break, you know, a bit of normality in home.

I think the biggest impact is probably on Loraine, not on me. I mean, I find them… They are all good people. They all fit in really well. We haven’t had anyone who is, you know, really grumpy and horrible or anything like that. They are really nice and they try to fit in and do the best they can to stay in a background. So, if we have people come here they will sort of go out of the way and then just attend Emma when need be.

LORAINE: I think, initially for me… Why it was so hard for me it wasn’t the carers themselves, because they’ve all been good and nice. I had to learn to step back and let them do what they had to do without butting in and trying to help them. And I still get that now. You know, they go to do something and I’ve already done it. But I did learn to step back and relax more. I wasn’t relaxed. I felt that once they come in the morning I had to be up, and had to make sure Emma’s clothes were all there, what she was going to put on for the day. And as time’s gone on I don’t do that anymore. I let the carers get there…

KEITH: We learned that carers do actually do all that sort of stuff.

LORAINE: Of course, you’ve got to give Emma that choice too. What does she want to wear today? Not what I want to pick out for her. So, you learn all these things as you go along, and I am more relaxed now with the carers.

CHERIE: Do you feel like making the coffee, Emma?

EMMA: Yes, I do.

CHERIE: Alright. Let’s head over to the kitchen.

CHERIE: As a support worker I do feel like we are in a very privileged position. We are being let into people’s private life, people’s private homes. You become… Like you are quite aware that you are entering somebody’s home and you do have to have a certain level of I guess in your mind you think “I’m here in a professional manner, I’m here to represent the agency, I’m here for a purpose and that purpose is to provide care to this client”. But in my experience it worked really well. The client family, like the support worker and client relationship and the support worker and family relationship has always been quite clear and I find that it’s worked really well working together. The family usually will tell you where everything is that you need to know, makes you feel really welcome, really at home. And it makes it a really productive work environment.

ON SCREEN: For Emma’s father and step-mum, her accident changed their lives

KEITH: Yes, it’s different, because we were on our own with no small children or…

LORAINE: Yeah, we had no one at home.

KEITH: No one at home. We could go anywhere, do anything we like. And now it’s all has gone back to as it was twenty years ago, isn’t it?

LORAINE: Yeah. And I mean sure we’ve been told if we wish to go out that’s fine. You know, the carers are here. And there was a point there where I still wasn’t leaving the house. But now I’m gradually filtering out. Like I’ll say to carers ‘I’ll just go down to the shops for awhile’. And you wouldn’t believe what a break that is. Not because of Emma. It’s just getting out of the house I think. It’s not escaping from anyone. It’s just you getting away and having that time on your own.

KEITH: And I think it’s the same for Emma. I think Emma wants to get out of the house and get away from us as well.

LORAINE: We are not saying she doesn’t love us. We are just saying…

KEITH: But she likes to go out. Like a carer might take her for lunch. Just her and the carer they get out, go for lunch and she comes home. You know, she’s been somewhere where everything is normal.

ON SCREEN: For Cherie, it’s important to address any problems promptly

CHERIE: If there was a problem I’ve always found that the managers at ABI services are always accessible, always contactable. Any issues can always directly relate to them. They… Often in the moment on shift it’s sometimes not possible to get those issue sorted out but usually if you do have any kind of an issue you take it straight to your manager. Your manager is, you know, is really in close contact with you and a family and works together to try to resolve it.

ON SCREEN: Likewise for families, it’s important to raise any issues.

KEITH: You mustn’t be frightened to say ‘We don’t think this carer is doing a good enough job’. Say that to the provider so that they change things, you know what I mean?

LORAINE: We do often ask Emma. We say ‘Look Emma, you know, if you are not happy with this carer, it’s you that has to have that carer constantly’. I mean, it’s 24 hours a day someone looking at you, telling you what to do. So, it’s up to Emma really. You know, she might not like a carer but she’s never told us that. But we give her the choice.

ON SCREEN: Cherie is at uni & does this work part-time – she finds it very rewarding

CHERIE: I really like the days that you can help you client achieve a goal that they’ve really been working towards for a long time. I think it’s really satisfying to be in a role where you are helping people to live independently and fulfil their potential whatever their potential might be. I think, just assisting people to be the best that they can be is extremely rewarding.

ON SCREEN: Some friends visit.... Emma used to play netball with them

VISITOR: Hello how are you going?

EMMA: How are you going?

VISITOR: We bought Amy to visit too.

AMY: Hey Emma good to see you.

EMMA: Good to see you too.

ON SCREEN: Though she can no longer play team sport her parents focus on the positives.

KEITH: The good thing is, Emma’s home with us, you know there was a time there when we didn’t think she’d make it home.

LORRAINE: I think some of the good things are Emma used to an Art teacher and she’s started to draw again and we’re seeing  that progressively improve from probably a little  kindergarten child  to a primary school level.

KEITH: Same with the handwriting

LORRAINE: And her  handwriting we can gradually see she writes in a diary every day and its just getting better and better all the time. And the carers do all that with her

VISITOR: Last time we said we want an Emma original we don’t care what the topic is the colours....

ON SCREEN: The most important thing for Emma is spending time with her daughter.

CHERIE: Your daughter Eloise has been here today?

EMMA: Yeah, I know. She’s good.

EMMA: She’s growing up fast.

CHERIE: Growing up fast?

EMMA: Yes.

CHERIE: Oh, they always do.

EMMA: Yeah, they do, they do.

EMMA:  She loves her mum. Which is really good. Loves her mom.

CHERIE: What did she do when she saw you today?

EMMA: Cuddled me, kissed me.

CHERIE: Yes, gave you a big kiss, didn’t she?

EMMA: Yes. Loves me, loves her grandad, loves her nanna.

VISITOR: She’s become a gym junkie instead.

VISITOR:  I heard you go to gym...which gym do you go to?

EMMA: Basy.

VISITOR: Yeah that’s pretty close to Centra.

VISITOR: Do you like it?

EMMA: Love it!

ON SCREEN: Thanks to Emma & her family for taking part in this video. Interviewer Paul Bullen. Camera & Editing Peter Kirkwood. Produced by Paul Bullen & Peter Kirkwood. www. Living-with-attendant-care.info