Jean Larner, aged 92, was welcomed into Alderwood in 2014 following a hip replacement in hospital. She had previously suffered a minor stroke, stage three kidney failure and stage four skin cancer. Jean was also showing early signs of dementia and was completely blind in her left eye. She hadn’t been managing very well at home and was very anxious and scared living alone.
Shortly after moving into Alderwood, Jean responded well to the loving and gentle care from the team and her health showed signs of stabilising. Having initially been residing on the nursing unit, she was soon venturing down to the residential floor, moving around much more freely (with assistance from her walking aid). Her room was relocated to the ground floor, where she could enjoy access to her own private courtyard and embrace her love of gardening.
Jean was enjoying life more and more each day, but the team were continuing to actively look for ways for her to reach her full potential.
It had been noticed that Jean was struggling in exercise classes with joint pains, so the team started thinking of other forms of exercise which she might find more enjoyable and relaxing – swimming!
When Jean was first told the idea, she laughed, “I’ve never been swimming before in my entire life, but I’ll give it a go! Why not?”
The team’s careful planning for the excursion started. Of course, when taking residents swimming there is lots of planning to ensure residents safety – the cold, slippery floors, accessible changing rooms, getting into and out of the pool, not to mention how well they respond when in the water. The team of course had to take extra caution with it being Jean’s first experience in a pool.
The team found a lovely local pool and went to investigate whether it would be appropriate. It had a large family changing area, disability access and corridors wide enough for walking aides. The water was lovely and warm, with a sloping entry as well as steps – perfect! They enquired as to when would be the best time to go and made sure there would be a qualified life guard on hand.
Team members gathered together a group of residents that were keen to take a dip. They went out and purchased suitable swimwear and slip-resistant footwear, as well as some floating noodles, which work perfectly in providing support to different areas of the body whilst in the water.
Time for a swim!
Jean absolutely loved it. “That was brilliant!” she said. “I never thought I could do it, but I did it. I think we all really need a good brandy now though!” She couldn’t wait to go again.
Her son said he couldn’t believe that after all these years she had actually been swimming. He saw the benefits to her health and wellbeing through her improved mobility and the relief she felt from her painful joints. He thanked the team for their careful planning and consideration for the excursion and the kind thought behind the idea.
The swimming excursions have already turned into a regular activity at Alderwood and the team members are loving every minute, seeing the happiness on the residents’ faces as they enjoy the water. Jean is already thinking of getting a team together for synchronised swimming – watch this space!