Michelle makes a difference

Living with complex mental health needs, seizures and anxiety, Michelle has lived in care for the past five years. Originally living at home with her late husband, they realised it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue caring for Michelle to continue living at home, as both their health and wellbeing were beginning to be affected.

Michelle moved into a local care home but never quite settled – moving to another two care homes across a three year span, Michelle could not find happiness. “I knew it was better for me to be in care; there are times when I have a seizure, and then have no recollection of what has happened. It was too difficult for my husband to care for me at home, as his health was beginning to decline too. We both found a sense of happiness once I moved into Scotia Heights because straight away it felt more homely” says Michelle.

Specialist care home Scotia Heights was not too far away from Michelle’s home on the outskirts of Stoke, making it easier for her husband to visit. After moving from home to home over a couple of years, Michelle felt quite unsettled and naturally found it a little difficult to feel at home within Scotia Heights – her mental health and anxiety took a huge hit.

However, staff and fellow service users within the nurse-led home gradually eased Michelle into her new surroundings; finding she was slowly coming out of her shell and communicating more with others. “It did take a while for me to get settled, but that was mainly because nowhere was ever going to be quite like home with my late husband. Everyone at Scotia was so good to me, and did everything they could to put my anxious thoughts to rest.”, continued Michelle.

Earlier this year, Michelle’s husband sadly passed away – “It was almost as if he knew I was finally settled, and happy in my new surroundings, so knew he could move on himself. He hadn’t been too well for a while. The biggest thing I miss is being able to Facetime him every day” said Michelle.

“I think we all realised Michelle needed a coping mechanism; something to keep her anxiety levels down, something to keep her active and feeling fulfilled. I introduced the idea of becoming a Service User Ambassador for the council, as well as Lifeskills Coordinator within her home. She took to the ideas really well, and the difference in her now is brilliant” says Service User Engagement Manager, Sophia. Recognising she needed something to keep her mind active and distracted, Michelle began participating in more activities throughout the home and becoming more involved with the Service User Engagement Team.

As ambassador for Scotia Heights and the Service User Council, Michelle takes part in activity planning, shows visitors around the home and is a voice for her fellow residents within the council meetings. Michelle recently participated in Exemplar’s ‘About me’ filming project, where service users share their story on life within their home, what they want for the future and how they will get there.

“Obviously, I still have my days – but I am really happy I have a bit of a role and voice here. It makes such a difference to my mood, giving me something to focus on and makes me feel like I have a purpose; something to be proud of. And if I have a day where I do feel a little low, I don’t have to do anything – it is completely my choice. I’ve never had an opportunity like this within other care homes; this is the first where residents can get involved, make a difference to their lives, the lives of others and be heard.” Michelle finished.

To find out more about the care provided at Scotia Heights, please contact referrals@exemplarhc.com