Older people's stories of Independent Living

This section presents what older people themselves have to say about Independent Living.

If you are looking for case studies of how professionals put Independent Living into practice, click here.

Frank's story: Person-centred planning

Frank is laidback and funny.  People find it relaxing to be around him.  Joan and Sandra are home care workers who see Frank every day: "I really enjoy going to see Frank and I love his constant banter."

Frank is laidback and funny. People find it relaxing to be around him. Joan and Sandra are home care workers who see Frank every day: "I really enjoy going to see Frank and I love his constant banter."

Frank finds it frustrating when Joan and Sandra are sent on other calls.  "When my regular carers come it’s great you can’t beat it and life is good, but different staff forever turning up you get fed up of explaining what they have to do.  They quiz me and quiz me about things they should know.  It floors me, so many questions."

As part of a project called Practicalities & Possibilities, Joan, Sandra and Frank developed a one-page profile highlighting what is important to him, as opposed to what is ‘best’ for him.  This was used as the basis for a formal review of the services he receives, led by Frank.  The staff agreed actions to start changing what was not working for him.  In other words, Frank started ‘self-directing’ his support through the use of a person-centred review.

What’s different now:

  • Joan and Sandra know Frank better.  "I know so much more about him now and so we have many things to chat about; this pleasantly distracts Frank when I am assisting him with something he may otherwise feel embarrassed about.  I think Frank and I are more connected now because as I’ve learned more about the things that are important to him it’s helped me get to know him much better.  I have naturally shared things about myself too so we feel as though we know more about each other, which is good."
  • Frank is doing more.  Frank has identified that the support he really needs is to get out and about more.  He has changed what the care staff do, to meet his preferences and needs.  He is finding out about social clubs and events in his area, and has identified people who could help support him to do more in his local community.  
  • Home care managers are more aware of the impact of changing Frank’s carers.  His one-page profile is shared with care staff so that Frank won’t be "floored" by being asked lots of questions about what needs to be done.
  • Frank has more self-esteem.  He feels reassured that he does have the right to comment on things that are not working for him.  He no longer says, "I suppose I should be grateful someone turns up."  Now he says, "It’s great this, I can say what I want without worrying about getting into bother."
  • Joan and Sandra feel more fulfilled in their jobs.  "We are focusing more on what matters to the people we support, learning what will bring a smile to their face. I have been amazed at just how much it’s about the little things."

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Gladys’s story

Gladys is a huge character - the life and soul of the party.  She has lived in her small cottage for the past 20 years and is close friends with her neighbour Emily. 

Jayne is a support worker who helps with meals, laundry and shopping.

Gladys used to go to a club with her husband but now that he’s passed away, she doesn’t go anymore.  "I’m more a morning person now, I will nod off if I go out at night and that’s no good in the club, folk would laugh at me!"

As part of a project called Practicalities & Possibilities, Jayne, Emily and Gladys developed a one-page profile that shows what really matters to Gladys: "[What I would really like is] a good social get together at lunch, so I can enjoy myself and talk to other people without nodding off."

Jayne arranged for information about luncheon clubs to be sent to Gladys.  Gladys and Emily decided to try a lunch club twice a week.

Gladys and Emily developed a one-page profile for Emily and introduced themselves to the staff at the luncheon club using their one page profiles.

What’s different now:

  • Gladys and Emily get out and about more - together.  They split the cost of a taxi to the lunch club.  They are working out how they can afford to get to the tea dances at a local centre twice a week.
  • Gladys and the local authority are saving money.  Going to the lunch club is cheaper than having a lunchtime home care call.
  • Gladys is empowered and enjoying life more.  She has reduced her reliance on social services by cutting out two home care visits and replacing them with the luncheon club where she can meet up with others.  "It’s wonderful being the life and soul of the party again!"
  • Jayne has developed as a professional.  "I learned that listening and finding out what makes people’s lives better is much more important than worrying about tasks alone.  The impact it has on a person’s life, when we learn about their interests and preferences and share that information with others.  Also how important it is to build relationships and truly know the people we support especially when we are the only people in their lives."

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Shirley’s story

Shirley has a chronic health condition, for which she receives support at home.  She used to have no choice over the type of care she received.

"Nothing was flexible.  A carer couldn’t do anything for me other than the things that were laid down by the rules.  She couldn’t do any medication... she didn’t understand my illnesses and she could only come at specific times.  There were no outings... we didn’t have any talk or chat.  We didn’t have any interests in common at all."

Shirley started receiving a personal budget and chose her own carer, someone she could trust and develop a relationship with.  As Shirley says: "Someone brighter and much more knowledgeable". 

"Life is much pleasanter now... I know that [my new carer] understands things, and gets on well with the rest of my family.  She anticipates what needs doing and has made an effort to learn about the different aspects of my health... It’s nice to know that somebody else understands and can take over the responsibility of looking after my medication and all aspects of it if I am feeling very ill."

Having a personal budget has made a big difference to Shirley’s life.

"I’m much more relaxed and I’m more confident.  Although my chronic condition has worsened, which was inevitable anyway, my actual health and well-being is much better.  I haven’t had to see the doctor or have any emergency admissions to the hospital... I have a very good GP practice and a community matron. Everybody works together (and) supports each other. So I think it’s due to a lot of factors but mostly because of the control I have over my care."

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Mr N’s story

Mr N was finding life a bit of a struggle when he came home after being in hospital. He began to fear that he might have to give up living in his own home and move into a care home. He contacted an advice line run by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel and talked things through with an advisor. Together they concluded that Mr N did not yet need 24 hour care, but that it might be a good idea to get some help with housework and gardening.

Mr N was directed to his nearest Age Concern for information about services available locally. EAC also sent him a list of companies that supply frozen ready meals, to cater for the days when he does not feel up to cooking.

Mr N is now planning ahead for the future. He knows where he can get information on options if he finds himself needing to change his housing situation in the future.


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Howard’s story

Howard moved into extra care housing after living in a flat on his own and becoming very depressed. "I never saw my neighbours and I stopped eating... I had a nervous breakdown." His doctor told him that a care home might be the best option. Howard insisted on exploring other housing options and moved into an extra care housing scheme instead. He knew about it because he had once visited a friend there. "I said it was the only place I would go."

What's different now? "When I got here, I saw it as a new start and a chance to get back on my feet. At first I stayed in my flat, but I gradually felt better, I started eating and enjoying life more. Now I make my own breakfast and tea and join in social activities here and outside. I have made friends, and I feel a lot more confident now."



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