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Welcome Home Alistair!

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2,900+ reviews
Posted on 14th September 2016.

Meet Alistair, he receives Live-in Care from Helping Hands led by the Clinical Team. His experience with his live-in carer Josef has made such a difference to living with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM).

Alistair was diagnosed with ADEM in 2009, which is a rare autoimmune disease, caused by a sudden and widespread inflammation in the brain and spinal cord and shares similar symptoms to Multiple Sclerosis. ADEM affects around eight in one million per year, unfortunately for Alistair, he became one of them.

Following his diagnosis, Alistair was admitted to hospital and spent over seven years battling with this illness and undergoing extensive amounts of treatment and procedures. He has experienced multiple chest infections, and regularly has seizures which need to be treated with medication. Alistair has had a tracheostomy fitted to assist him with his breathing, however this has triggered three cardiac arrests and have caused damage to his brain.

Nevertheless, the agonizing seven-years in hospital waiting to return home was worth it. After a complicated discharge from hospital, our Head of Clinical Care, met with the family in March. The team at Helping Hands biased with multiple health care professionals and supported the family to find the perfect live-in carer for Alistair.


Prior to Alistair being diagnosed with ADEM, he led a very fit life and worked on the farm where he grew up. He had led an active and busy social life with his friends. For Alistair, it was important for him to go home and be supported, kept safe and still be able to continue to do the things that he enjoys. Being an avid Beatles fan, loves watching films and always finds the time to watch his favourite show, Family Guy. Keeping this quality of life was important to Alistair, and his family were keen to give him all the support they could in order to provide this.

Helping Hands found the perfect carer for Alistair, Jozef Holecko.

“Jozef has so much experience, that he was less nervous than me,”says Helping Hands Clinical Nurse, who helped arrange Alistair’s care.

“Not only did he have the right technical skills and expertise, but he has the most perfect approach to Alistair, really taking the time to understand him. They have such a strong relationship; they will go from strength to strength.”

As Alistair cannot verbally communicate, Josef created a version of sign language which was developed from his memories and life experiences.

For Alistair’s parents, David and Frieda, they felt they have gained another son with Josef. After hearing the news that Alistair potentially wouldn’t have survived his illness, they were beyond relieved that after seven years, their loving, gentle giant would be able to come home.


Maintaining interactions with his family and friends was an important factor for Alistair and his well-being. With his life changing dramatically since he previously lived at home, his family are realistic and understand they need to take it one day at a time.

One thing he didn’t forget about his previous life was his love for the farm that he grew up on

“His face lit up when he saw his favourite apple tree and heard the combine harvester working in the fields,”. “His face was a picture and definitely told a story!”

Here at Helping Hands, we are incredibly proud of being able to support Alistair and his family. We are also delighted with the Clinical team for being the solution that has enabled Alistair to return home after seven years.

Helping Hands’ Head of Clinical Care finally added,“I have never felt so proud and had a little tear in my eye. I am really looking forward to seeing Alistair start living his life again.”

Contact us today to find out more information about our Clinical Care Services.

Sally Tomkotowicz