Reluctant rest-home resident speaks up

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Home where the heart is . . . Gathered at Monday's launch of the Southern DHB's "Home as my First Choice" campaign are (from left) advocate Debbie Williams, SDHB Allied Health (Strategy, Primary and Community) director Andrew Metcalfe, and SDHB Nursing director Sally O'Connor. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

A slow and painful recovery from two serious spinal injuries last year has left a Dunedin woman reluctantly living in residential care.

Debbie Williams (79) fractured a vertebra in July last year, after stepping awkwardly from a car.

After a week in Dunedin Hospital and a period of respite care, she was able to return home.

Unfortunately, less than a fortnight later, she fractured another three vertebrae, landing up back in hospital and on morphine for severe pain.

The decision was then made by clinicians, family and Mrs Williams that she should become a resident at Frances Hodgkins Retirement Village, receiving rest-home care.

“I was on morphine, so the details are fuzzy, but I think we decided that it would give peace of mind for everybody,” she said.

Her possessions were sold off and the move was made.

However, given time and the care she needed to recover, Mrs Williams is feeling much better, and regrets that she is not able to return to her own home.

“I am spoilt rotten by the lovely staff, but still I would prefer to be in my own home,” she said.

“However, that isn’t really an option any more. All of my things are gone.”

She keeps her mind busy by reading, is a member of the Robbie Burns committee, and is able to drive herself out and about from time to time.

Mrs Williams fully supports the Home as my First Choice campaign and believes giving older people enough time to recover from illness or injury could help more people remain in their own homes.