28 Apr 2014
Sue shares her MS experience with care staff
A woman who has the debilitating neurological condition Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is helping to give staff at Caremark (Redcar and Cleveland) a better understanding of how to look after people with serious illnesses
Sue Rushby is providing training to staff at Caremark (Redcar and Cleveland), a Guisborough-based company which delivers care and support to people in their own homes across Redcar and Cleveland and North Yorkshire.
Sue, a client of Caremark, was approached by its in-house trainer Jan Morgan to see if she would share her experiences of living and coping with MS. Sue was keen to promote awareness of Multiple Sclerosis.
The 56-year-old married mother-of-two, who lives in Redcar, only started to experience the first symptoms of her illness a few years ago. During a protracted and difficult recovery from a broken ankle she noticed her leg was dragging. Other worrying symptoms also started to appear and it took a while for her diagnosis of MS to be finally confirmed.
Having confirmation that she had MS was daunting as Sue had no way of knowing how quickly her condition would progress.
She says: "Unfortunately my illness progressed quickly and I was soon dependent on care and specialist equipment including a personalized electric wheelchair. The rapid change in my condition meant increasing difficulty with fatigue, movement and tremors which in itself brought their own problems.
"In the early days following my diagnosis I visited others who had also been newly diagnosed with MS so that we could share our thoughts and I could offer some reassurance.
Sue was keen to share her story with Caremark (Redcar and Cleveland) and particularly her own care workers to give them a better understanding of what she was going through. After a couple of meetings with Sue, Jan prepared a presentation about MS and Sue came along to a training session to answer any questions staff had.
Jan says: "Sue was very open and honest with our group and was able to clearly explain with a lot of humour the many complications that the condition creates. She described having two lives: one before MS and another with MS, which is something not many of us had stopped to think about.
"The session was a great success and everyone came away with a greater appreciation and understanding of what it is like to live with MS and how building an honest and trusting relationship between carer and client is so important when caring for someone with an illness like this.
"Due to the success of this first session another session is in the planning we are now hoping to make this a regular event as part of the ongoing training staff at Caremark (Redcar & Cleveland) receives.
"We really appreciated having this opportunity and are very grateful to Sue for sharing her story with our carers. Going forward I feel this will have a really positive impact on the way we care for clients with MS and will only enhance the high level of care we already deliver."
Sue, who used to breed show dogs and once competed at Crufts, says: "I still am a little uncomfortable having others complete my personal care, but having trust and understanding with your carers is crucial and promotes stability which is a vital part of delivering good quality care."
Sue regularly attends her local MS Therapy Centre and makes use of the different facilities available. The centre is at Middlesbrough, which serves the Tees Valley, North Yorkshire, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and into Northumbria. In May, Caremark staff will be doing a sponsored walk to raise money for the centre, which is self-funded and raises income through donations and fundraising events.
To find out more about MS, visit www.middlesbroughmstherapy.org
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition of the central nervous system. In MS, the coating around nerve fibres (called myelin) is damaged, causing a range of symptoms. It affects around 100,000 people in the UK and most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40. Roughly three times as many women have MS as men.