A Story of Passion and Support

As the son of another client of Jemma’s, there’s a heart-warming story to be told of Jemma and a gentleman called, Ernest.

As the son of another client of Jemma’s, there’s a heart-warming story to be told of Jemma and a gentleman called, Ernest.

In July 2013, Five Towns Home Assistance opened its doors with a vision to help the community and fill a gap in helping residents maintain independence and dignity at home.

By September 2013, the client list was building, and Jemma was asked to assist a local gentleman, Ernest, whose family lived across the globe in Australia. Working with a local solicitor in Garforth, Jemma agreed to take Ernest under her wing as an independent and personal advocate for his wellbeing.

As Ernest’s advocate, Jemma dealt with his day to day living needs over the autumn and winter months, however in early 2014, Ernest’s mental health began to deteriorate, needing more assistance than Jemma could provide alone.

To ensure Ernest’s safety and wellbeing, Jemma asked a trusted support worker, Tracy Todd to help and together they visited daily and made sure he was eating healthily, kept mentally stimulated and took him everywhere: out for lunch, shopping and to community social events.

Naturally, with Ernest’s mental health deteriorating, Jemma would get dozens of calls, at all times of the day as his memory failed and the confusion and frustration of his illness intensified. She just smiled and was always happy to listen, often going over to check on him, irrespective of the time of day.

By September 2014, Ernest’s illness had taken its toll and a decision had to be made regarding his safety, health and wellbeing that would change Ernest’s life forever. As Ernest’s advocate, Jemma made the difficult decision to find Ernest a suitable Residential Home.

As a child or family member looking after a parent or an elderly relative, or as a personal advocate like Jemma, looking after the wellbeing of a client, making such a realisation and subsequent decision to move them under the care of a Residential Home can be heartbreaking. The feeling that you may have failed them and the guilt is only natural, even though it’s in their best interests to keep them safe.

As owner of Five Towns Home Assistance, Jemma passionately tries her hardest to help clients stay home for as long as possible, as the familiarity and comfort that a person’s home can provide is immeasurable. This passion is echoed by the senior support managers and support team members, who are now very much part of the Five Towns Home Assistance mission.

On a personal note, this is why Jemma understands how difficult it can be on families to make these decisions and why the team is so passionate about what they do. It sounds cliched, but Five Towns Home Assistance is more than a ‘job’ to Jemma and her support team.

Jemma with the support of Tracy, finally found a suitable Residential Home, where they knew Ernest would settle, knowing that the family would be able to phone him from Australia regularly.

Jemma promised Ernest that she would ‘see it through to the end’. Herself and Tracy continued to visit and take him out where possible, with Jemma still acting as his personal advocate. He would love a pint at a local pub or a visit to a local café and was always happy to see them both.

If he was having a bad day, the Home would call Jemma and ask for her to visit, where she would attend and reassure him everything was going to be OK.

Ernest fell asleep on the 11th of July, on his 96th Birthday, 3 years after him moving into the care home. Three days later, Ernest passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday the 14th of July 2017, with Jemma by his side.

Over the following week, Jemma then went on to arrange Ernest’s funeral, and as Ernest had served in the Royal Airforce, an RAF send-off was organised in loving memory of a special man, who made her the passionate person she is today; for all her clients, past and present and their families.

–        Written by the son of another client.

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