Better Together is a programme developed to join up health and social care services across Mid-Nottinghamshire. Chris Hunt from Mansfield Woodhouse has told how Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s Integrated Care Team, part of Better Together, supports him in his day-to-day life.
Chris was in his mid-thirties when he was left paralysed after surgery to correct a spinal disorder. Today, 28 years later, he lives at home in Mansfield Woodhouse, from where he also runs his accountancy firm helped by a team of office-based staff. He uses a wheelchair but, due to his condition, can only be in it for around four hours a day. He has to spend the rest of his time in bed.
“I get up at around seven in the morning, do a bit of work, and I’m usually back in bed for eleven. Then I’m in bed all day and night until seven again the next morning. Carers visit four times a day.”
The Trust’s Integrated Care Team in Mansfield and Ashfield also visit Chris daily, helping him to manage his diabetes and providing catheter and stoma care. Chris is also receiving treatment for polycythaemia, a condition where the body produces too many red blood cells.
Chris also suffers from pressure ulcers, a common injury for people who lie or sit for long periods of time. An ulcer occurs when the skin is placed under pressure, breaking down the surface and underlying tissue. Equipment, such as hospital beds and air-filled mattresses, can help prevent ulcers but can be hard to get - as Chris found out.
“I had previously been refused a hospital bed at home but then Liz, Community Nurse, visited with Karen, a new Occupational Therapist from the team; Karen did an assessment and agreed I had a case. ‘Let’s see what we can do together’ they said. And that was it…I got the bed!
“It has proved invaluable to my care. It makes getting in and out of bed much easier. And I’m less likely to catch myself; a small graze can develop into an ulcer. I’ve got an air-filled mattress and the team also organised wheelchair services and cushion assessors to come out. It was good teamwork.”
Sadly, Chris’s ulcer became infected and he was eventually admitted to Kings Mill Hospital, where he spent eight days. But, once again, the team were on hand to help.
“Before I went into hospital, the GP visited and prescribed antibiotics. However, I had no one to fetch them. Without hesitation, Lesley, another Community Nurse, went and got them for me. That’s what I call going the extra mile.
“Now I’m out of hospital I want to get back to where I was, that’d be great. It’s been a bad year illness-wise. It’s knocked me back and I’ve lost a lot of confidence.
“But, I’ve got a positive outlook. You fight or give in. And I don’t give in! I enjoy listening to music. And I read a lot. I watch TV too; I like the history and geography channels. And I follow football, cricket. My Mum and Dad visit and I’ve got three children; I have a son and daughter in Nottinghamshire and another son working in America. I’m content.
“Since I came home, the team has continued looking after me. They work in communicating with each other, which is good for me – and probably them!"
"They understand my needs. And that means a lot to someone like me, who can’t get out and about.”
Lesley Bosson, Community Staff Nurse, helps to look after Chris, who she describes as an “amazing person” to care for. “It is a pleasure to visit Chris” she says. “He is always so interesting and has such a positive attitude to life. He has so many comorbidities but he never complains, he is so compliant with all the advice that we give him.
“Integration is about working together to achieve better outcomes for our patients. As a team, we are committed to delivering quality care around the needs of the patient.”
The Trust’s Integrated Care Teams operate across the County and are made up of nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, community matrons, specialist nurses, healthcare assistants, falls specialists, mental health workers and social workers.
Referrals can be made by a GP or self-referrals are also accepted via the Single Point of Access on 0300 456 4951.
For more information about Better Together, operating in Mansfield & Ashfield and Newark & Sherwood, visit the Better Together Website at www.bettertogethermidnotts.org.uk