accessibility & help

‘I couldn’t have managed without the Red Cross’

Living with Parkinson’s disease can be difficult for Renate Eglestaff – so she was especially grateful when our volunteer called round to help.

Renate cannot speak highly enough of the British Red Cross support at home service, which helped her following two recent hospital stays.

The pensioner, from North Devon, said: “I live alone and can be a bit wobbly and prone to falls because I have Parkinson’s.”

‘Delightful company’

“There’s nowhere better than being in your own home, but I couldn’t have managed without the wonderful support from my Red Cross volunteer, Sue.”

The 84-year-old added: “Besides helping with practical tasks, such as sorting my food shopping, Sue was just delightful company.

“I really looked forward to her visits, and it made my recovery so much better knowing someone was there to help me when I needed it.”

‘Peace of mind’

For support at home volunteer Sue Oake, watching people such as Renate get better is what makes it all worthwhile.

She said: “After a few visits, you do notice an improvement in people’s confidence. They gradually become more mobile and independent – and that largely comes from their peace of mind in knowing someone’s available if they need anything.

“For example, I may start by fetching some groceries for a client – but within weeks they’ll be accompanying me to the shops. I also particularly enjoy the befriending aspect of the service – I’ve met some lovely people.”

‘Back on track’

Sam Snelling, health and social care manager, said: “Some patients find their confidence has taken a knock – for example, after an injury from a fall – so they relish the reassurance and encouragement our volunteers provide. It helps them achieve their goals and get back on track.”

He added: “Most of the people we support are aged over 65 years old and live alone. And since depression from loneliness can really set back someone’s recovery or lead to a more serious health condition, the benefits of having good company can’t be underestimated.”

The Red Cross service is funded by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which also won praise from the pensioner. Renate said: “Everything was arranged by the hospital for when I returned home after surgery.”

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