Care Story: Mark and Damien

This is the story of Mark and Damien

When Damien joined Heydays as a carer two years ago, Mark became his first client. Damien accompanied Senior Carer, Gillian to assess Mark’s needs and put together a suitable care plan that would assist Mark as he adjusted to life back home following a stroke.

Mark had spent a 30-year career working as a Civil Servant and led an active social life, but in 2010 he was made redundant. With his mother in poor health, Mark gradually took on the role of his mother’s carer before she sadly died in 2013. Determined to remain active and bring people together who were also dealing with unemployment or who were just in need of company, Mark, his brother and a friend decided to set up a community art club which met weekly in Barrow-in-Furness. Initially it was just the three of them, but word soon spread and the club quickly gained members.

Devastatingly, just 12 months later Mark’s brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died. The impact of his brother’s death had a huge effect on Mark which led to him suffering a stroke. Mark spent seven weeks in hospital and when he was discharged, he had very limited mobility and very little speech.

Knowing that he would need ongoing day to day support in addition to rehabilitation and home adaptions, Mark asked the hospital to contact Heydays who he knew had a good reputation in the local area.

Mark admits that he was unprepared for the huge physical and emotional challenges facing him post-stroke. An early set back came from a physiotherapist who informed him that it was unlikely he would walk again and that his physical recovery would be limited. Understanding that Mark needed positivity, Damien encouraged him about the possibilities and helped him to set goals that would keep him emotionally on track.

Knowing how important it is for a carer to build a trusted relationship with each client so they can work as a team, Damien took time initially with Mark to establish an understanding without having that verbal communication available. He says, “When I first met Mark, he was a frightened gentleman but over the past two years we’ve worked together on his physical mobility and his speech, and we’ve built a great friendship. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness such a positive transformation – it’s something that no amount of money can buy.”

Mark described the milestone moment that he was able to walk unaided again as ‘brilliant’. Damien and his colleagues would encourage Mark to mobilise himself each day, using their assistance and a support belt to gradually rebuild the strength in his legs, until the point that he was able to walk with a stick unaided.

Mark now feels positive about his recovery journey and plans to return to his art club very soon, saying, “I’ve had to learn to draw and paint all over again using my left hand. I was right-handed but after the stroke, I’ve not been able to use it.”

Mark has persevered and has recently completed a painting for a friend, of dog ‘Shadow’ (pictured). For anyone interested in joining the free-to-attend Barrow in Furness Art and Craft Club, it runs on a Monday 10am-4pm at St. Matthews Community Hall. All are welcome.