Norman and Diane have walked a very long way. They’ve walked the Pennine Way, Glyndwr’s Way, The Pilgrim’s Way and The Ridgeway. They’ve walked Hadrian’s Wall and the coast of Devon & Cornwall. They’ve walked the length of the Thames from Trewsbury Mead to estuary. They’ve walked from Land’s End to the other end, and they’ve got journals filled with watercolours and photographs to prove it. But today Norman faces one of the most challenging journeys he’s ever undertaken – the short ride in a hoist from chair to bed.
‘Don’t worry, darling. It’s okay,’ says Diane, stroking the backs of his hands as the hoist rises up a little and the sling straps tighten. Norman wriggles anxiously from side to side and kicks out his legs. ‘Try just to relax and go with it,’ she says.
It’s a manual handling dilemma. Norman isn’t so debilitated that bed care is the only option – which would lead to further deconditioning, the risk of pressure damage and so on – but then again, after his recent illness, neither can he transfer safely with just a zimmer frame and the assistance of two. A stand-aid would be the only other option, and that’s certainly on our minds as we try to reassure him before we lift him out of the chair. If it fails, we’ll be forced to get him back to bed by some other means, and then try to build up his strength and confidence over time with a home exercise programme. For now, the hoist is the best option.
‘It’ll help when he has regular carers, a routine and so on,’ says Brigit, the Occupational Therapist. ‘They’ll be a lot slicker than us.’
‘I think there’s just been a lot going on today, hasn’t there, darling?’ says Diane. ‘I think you’re just exhausted.’
He looks up at her, his legs sticking out, his hands gripping the brightly-coloured straps in front of him.
‘Where are we off to now?’ he says.