John’s Story – Kraydel

John’s Story

07 December 2020 | 0 Comment

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December 9th is Homecare Day 2020 and Kraydel joins people up and down the country celebrating and raising awareness of the role homecare services play in the health and social care community. 

These Homecare heroes provide high-quality, person-centered care to support the health, wellbeing, and independence of people in their own homes, with staff demonstrating skill commitment, and compassion every day.

The team at Kraydel are driven by a common vision of helping older adults live healthier and happier lives, and helping reduce loneliness and isolation. Every member of the team has their own deeply personal story of caring for elderly loved ones.

Today we share John’s Story; told by his oldest grandson Mike.

John’s Story

John grew up in Charlton in South East London but turned down a career in the family furniture business to join the merchant navy and a life of adventure that took him to every corner of the world.

In the post-war years, he trained as an engineer, serving on the Union Castle lines and then on civil engineering projects across Africa. From Kenya to South Africa and Algeria he was always an adventurer. He finished his career in the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia before retiring to South Africa at the age of 60 in 1986.

My earliest childhood memories are of being raised by the kindest, most selfless, and inventive man – who was also armed with the driest of senses of humour. At 6’1 he struck an impressive figure – tall and proud. He designed our house and was forever tinkering in his workshop. In my teens, I once had the misfortune of falling out of a tree I’d climbed to cut-back. Laid on the ground seeing stars I looked up to see my grandfather, then in his 70’s, balancing on a branch 20ft above the ground finishing the job I’d so spectacularly failed at.

Everyone in the community knows John as Grandad or GD for short. His minibus van with dogs hanging out of every window, often travelling a little too fast, have made him a local legend.

Then in 2018, at the age of 91, while bending over to pick up some socks he’d dropped he suffered a stroke. There is a cruel irony that something so simple and innocuous would end the independence of a man who is the closest I’ve come to meeting superman.

When he was hospitalised in June 2018, the doctors solemnly advised that his wonderful life was just days away from coming to a close.

But after two months of being a stubborn patient; loved by the nurses but less fond of the food and being told what to do by his physio, he was headed home. He was in a wheelchair, his speech was slurred, he needed 24/7 care and was still being fed via a tube but he had somehow defied the doctors and was coming home.

We soon discovered that becoming a 24/7 carer is more than just physically and emotionally exhausting. It means being alert to someone else’s needs every hour of the day. You always have his welfare and dignity on your mind and need to plan and consider every part of your life to fit around theirs. 

We soon decided that homecare was the only way forward. Call it fate – but within weeks of arriving home, we heard that the hospital unit he’d been treated in was closing. 

The amazing nursing staff were facing redundancy at the very same time we would be needing homecare support. And so Corrie, Celia, and Dottie became GD’s care support – covering the 9pm-6am late shift and enabling the family to occasionally have a day off to live their own lives.

When the doctor visited she was stunned. Within 6 months GD was on his feet. Using his wheelchair for support was able to walk slowly around the lounge. When she asked “are you all right?” – his dry response, “No, I’m half left”.

His team of homecare supporters has become part of the family. They wash him and feed him, chart his health and well-being vitals on a tight schedule. They watch over him while he sleeps and sit chatting to him when he’s awake. It’s meant that my brother and I can return home to our own lives and it’s provided my mum with some much-needed respite.

But living one’s own life comes with massive degrees of guilt. How could we support and participate in his care and remain connected whilst living thousands of miles away.

And then came Covid. With the carer team having their own families and homes we had to pause his care so that he could shield. So, at the start of lockdown, we installed a Konnect, meaning everyone could now dial in and chat to GD. We can upload photos and videos for the whole family to see and Konnect has meant we can spend longer speaking to my mum, without her worrying that she’s being distracted from caring for GD. It’s meant that physios and nutritionists can call in and visually see his progress, and now out of lockdown speak with the homecare team. If my mum needs to nip to the shops, a virtual care visit can sit and chat with him and watch over him.

Whether in person or virtual, homecare and technology have been critical to our new normal and piece of mind.

The past two and a half years have been a rollercoaster. For a man so fiercely independent it has been grossly unfair – he’s as mentally sharp as ever; just tired and frustrated. For loved ones Covid has simply reinforced how critical homecare is to our healthcare system, and not just the patient; homecare and technology that supports care are as important to the families and loved ones whose lives are suddenly turned upside down.

So on this HomeCare Day 2020, I’d like to say a massive thank you to Celia, Corrie, and Dottie and all the fantastic healthcare professionals who have made GD the centre of their lives.