Enabling older people to stay independent in their own homes

Richard BrownWhen 91 year old Richard Brown (right) had a “bit of a funny turn” last November he ended up in hospital for ten days. The former Engineering Services Manager for Carr’s had always been handy around the house, but when he came home he needed help to stay independent.

Richard and his wife Laura, 83, live in Carlisle. Their family home for the past 50 years is on two floors and, like many retired couples, they don’t want to move, so they keep adapting their home to meet their changing health needs.

Their sons have helped where they can, putting a stairlift in as Laura’s arthritis made getting up and down stairs too difficult.

Richard Brown and Chris DavidsonThe family bathroom has long had its bath taken out and replaced with a walk-in shower and this was the challenge too far for Richard when he got out of the Cumberland Infirmary.

“I was still unsteady on my feet and not very confident. I didn’t feel safe getting in the shower. That’s where Cumbria Gateway came in and Chris the handyman fitted a really strong shower rail and attached a seat to the wall, so I could carry on showering by myself.”

Chris Davidson, works part-time for Cumbria Gateway, he has spent his life working in the building trade and although he was a bricklayer, he can plaster and turn his hand to almost any practical job in a house.

“I do little jobs, anything from gardening, to putting up curtain poles, to changing lightbulbs , putting shelves up or decorating. I find a lot of my customers are just like Mr Brown, they have a family home full of happy memories, they love their houses and they don’t want to leave so to be able to do a little job that makes a big difference in them staying independent is really satisfying.”

Cumbria Gateway Handyman - Chris DavidsonCath Howard, Chief Operating Officer for Cumbria Community Foundation, said:

“Cumbria Gateway is very much a key partner, providing a handy person and support service across Carlisle and District. Without the support from staff and volunteers such as from Cumbria Gateway, many people would need to turn to statutory services for help. Making sure that gardens look tidy and repair jobs are completed by friendly and trustworthy staff enables people to stay living in their own home without worrying about all the small jobs they otherwise struggle to do.”

Cumbria Gateway is one of the 33 partner organisations providing a range of services to help keep older people independent.

The voluntary and community groups that make up the Neighbourhood Care Independence Programme provide:

  • handy people to help with minor DIY tasks like changing light bulbs, mowing lawns and shopping.
  • links to friendship groups through good neighbourhood schemes and telephone contact for those who are lonely or isolated.
  • encouraging people to join in with social groups within their community.
  • helping people set up their own support, such as finding and paying for equipment and support services.
  • hearing aid maintenance and support ‘drop ins.’
  • short-term help after a hospital stay.
  • support for carers.

If you know an older person who might need a little extra help please ring the helplines:
In Barrow, Carlisle, Eden and South Lakeland 0844 967 1885
In West Cumbria 08442 84384