Charmaine, from our branch in Barnet, has been working with Ben since the summer of 2017 and it’s been an incredibly long yet rewarding journey. From being barely able to move and care for himself to now making his own meals and beginning to walk, Ben has made remarkable improvements since his accident, which could not have been possible without the support of Charmaine.
Charmaine has been working for Helping Hands since April 2017 – two months before she started caring for Ben. She grew up in North London and has lived there ever since with her three children. Charmaine has always worked in the care industry and has extensive experience of helping others. In her spare time, she likes to keep fit and loves to sing.
It’s June 2016 and another ordinary day for Ben. He was taking his usual commute to work, when something didn’t feel quite right in his legs. Ben collapsed, and this so-called ordinary day would now become the most extraordinary day he had ever experienced.
After getting himself to A&E, Ben was informed that he had suffered from a very serious spinal injury, which came as a complete shock. Hospital tests were quick to reveal the extent of Ben’s injuries and Ben was delivered the devastating news that he was paralysed from the neck down. He spent a prolonged time in a specialist rehabilitation and spinal unit, and after 11 months of intensive medical and psychological care, Ben was discharged.
From being able to look after and care for himself, go to work and keep fit, to now being C8 tetraplegic, life was completely and utterly different for Ben. His injury meant that he was unable to control the muscles in his arms, torso and legs, and unable to care for himself. He was desperate to go back to the comforts of his own home and avoid going into residential care. Although he had gained some feeling back in his fingers and was now able to feed himself, Ben still needed considerable support with everyday tasks. This is when Charmaine met Ben.
How Charmaine helped Ben
Charmaine got stuck in straight away and supported him with his personal care, taking his medication and preparing his meals. Charmaine also took Ben to his rehabilitation sessions every week in the hopes of enabling Ben to walk again. Sometimes Ben felt too tired to attend the sessions, so Charmaine learnt the exercises from Ben’s physiotherapist to complete these with Ben at home.
Physical and practical support was just one way that Charmaine helped Ben. After his life-changing injury, Ben also struggled with the emotional and psychological effects of what had happened to him – every day was a mountain to climb. Having a familiar, friendly face visit him on a daily basis and listen to how he felt meant that he was able to express his feelings to someone he trusted. It was important to Ben that he was able to build a rapport with his carer and Charmaine was the perfect person for this.
It hasn’t been easy for Ben, but 18 months after his discharge he is now able to walk short distances with the aid of personalised equipment. Charmaine still supports Ben and provides a great ear to listen to whenever he needs to offload feelings he may be struggling with. This is such a fantastic achievement and really shows the importance of carers suiting the personality and needs of the person they are looking after, which Helping Hands always strives to achieve.
Ben still faces a daily battle with his condition, but he has come a long way in the past two years. He is now attempting to raise funds for state-of-the art gait therapy, which uses exoskeleton robotics to retrain the brain and body to walk again. As this is unavailable on the NHS, he is hoping to raise £15,000 so that he can undergo these sessions in Europe and continue progressing his recovery. To learn more about Ben’s story and if you would like to make a donation, you can visit his page here.
The Branch Manager of Barnet, Sophie Pritchett, said: “Ben and Charmaine have a friendly and professional relationship, and her dedication has encouraged Ben along his road to recovery. With Charmaine’s uplifting personality, this partnership has grown from strength to strength which Ben has bounced off daily.
She continues: “Charmaine has been an ambassador to the Barnet Helping Hands Branch and we value her as a member of our team. This achievement has been the highlight of the Branch to date.”