Meet Jerry and Ella Charles. They found each other over 40 years ago when Jerry was a customer in Ella’s sweet shop and have been inseparable ever since. Since June 2017, the Helping Hands team in Barnet have been providing visiting care for the couple who live in Southgate, North London. After a period of ill-health for Jerry, their carers really went above and beyond for the lovely couple with a heart-felt gesture…
A chance meeting
Jerry spent most of his life working on the oil rigs at sea and was also a part-time body builder. It was a chance meeting at Ella’s sweet shop, but one that neither of them will ever forget. From the offset, they both realised there was something special about the other, and it wasn’t long before Jerry proposed to Ella.
Happily married, Jerry moved into Ella’s home in Southgate and has remained there ever since. Now over 40 years later, they are still as happy as they were in the 1970s and up until recently have both remained within the comforts of their own home together.
Although Jerry and Ella have been living independently for the past four decades, they steadily needed a bit more support at home to ensure they were safe and happy. For nearly three years, the couple have received daily calls from Helping Hands; Ella has a morning call every day to help her with personal care and Jerry is accompanied with a carer every Wednesday when he shops for their weekly groceries.
Towards the end of February 2019, Jerry was admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack. Ella was absolutely devastated. She relies on Jerry for physical and emotional support every day as she struggles with her mobility, but also felt lost without her life companion. Understandably, Ella was worried how she would cope alone and turned to her existing Helping Hands carers, who were able to pop in more regularly to make sure she was okay.
With such a serious illness, it wasn’t just an overnight stay for Jerry; he ended up being in hospital for around four weeks, but this didn’t stop Ella checking up on her beloved. As much as she could, she went to visit Jerry in hospital with the unwavering support of her regular Helping Hands carers.
Going the extra mile
On 20th March, Jerry was well enough to come home and finally be reunited with Ella. However, his mobility had quite significantly deteriorated since his heart attack and he was unable to support Ella in the same way that he used to. Once again, Helping Hands stepped in and asked his GP to refer him for an Occupational Therapy assessment, which he received the very next day.
With extra support in place, Jerry was able to be slightly more mobile at home, but he was still unable to get up and down the stairs – and ultimately unable to get into bed. With rest being one of the key factors in his recovery, it was vital that Jerry was able to get a good night’s sleep. His carer Rachel knew that something needed to be done in order for Jerry to recover properly, so she enlisted the help of another carer and went to the local British Heart Foundation charity shop to see what they could find.
By pure luck, they came across a volunteer who worked for the charity who was planning to get rid of a single bed from her own home. If Rachel and her colleague could take them back to her house, she would gladly donate the bed right there and then. So that’s what they did!
Arriving back at the Charles’ house with a nearly new bed in tow, the carers quickly installed the bed in a downstairs room, complete with sheets, duvet and pillows.
It goes without saying that Jerry and Ella were absolutely delighted with the swift action of the Helping Hands team and were extremely grateful for their hard work. Jerry slept very well in his new bed and was able to get a peaceful night’s rest without the added worry of how he was going to get downstairs in the morning.
Looking to the future
Although the couple received regular support from Helping Hands to ensure they were getting the best quality of life possible, Jerry’s health continued to deteriorate. The decision was taken for Jerry to move into a residential care home at the end of April, where he could constantly be monitored and cared for.
Understandably, Ella was upset by this decision but knew that it was necessary for both of them to remain in the best health possible. Helping Hands continues to support Ella with more frequent visits at home to ensure she has everything she needs.
Before Jerry made his move to residential care, the couple celebrated both of their birthdays, which were only a few days apart. Ella turned 96 and Jerry reached the milestone birthday of 90. Their carer, Rachel, didn’t hesitate to ensure they celebrate these important birthdays together and made sure they each had their own special birthday cake.
Branch Manager for Barnet, Sophie Pritchett, said: “What a wonderful journey Ella and Jerry have been on together. To be able to support them when they found themselves in a difficult situation has been our pleasure. It is so lovely to see the connection they have with each other and ensuring they are getting the best out of life. We will continue to take Ella to visit Jerry as they both look forward to this every week.
She continued: “Rachel has gone above and beyond to ensure the health and welfare of Jerry and Ella are met. She has been our superstar and her dedication does not go unnoticed; we value Rachel very much in the team.”
Jerry is now settled in to his new surroundings and Ella has already visited Jerry to see how he’s getting on. This wouldn’t be possible without the support of Rachel and their dedicated carers, who will accompany Ella to visit Jerry whenever she wants to and continue to provide person-centred care to ensure she retains as much of her independence as possible.
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