Four years ago, Carol Looby passed out while walking home after giving blood. She broke her hip – but says it’s the best thing that ever happened to her.
That’s because Carol’s accident led her to a British Red Cross home from hospital service. We not only helped with her recovery, but became a new venture for her too – Carol now volunteers for the service.
“It’s changed my life totally,” she said.
“I don’t remember any pain. I remember coming to and seeing people around me. Someone had put a coat under my head. Then I passed out again,” Carol said.
Passers-by found Carol and called an ambulance. She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary.
“I was in hospital for four nights,” Carol explained.
“I couldn’t believe how someone could break a hip and be home so quickly. But it was because of the Red Cross services.”
Carol was referred to our home from hospital service, where our volunteers and staff help people return home from hospital, get them settled, and continue to support them during their recovery.
Red Cross workers Beth and Aasim helped Carol during her recovery.
“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to move around my home easily or get to the shops,” Carol said.
“When I arrived home from hospital, Beth had already done my shopping. She’d also got me a Zimmer frame, and a frame to help me get on to the toilet.
“If I hadn’t had someone like the Red Cross to get me home and settled, I’d have had to stay in hospital. And those hospital beds are expensive. Getting people like me home with a bit of support is saving so much money in the long run.
“Plus I believe you get better in your own home, where you are comfortable. The Red Cross can give people that bit of help.”
Becoming a volunteer
Looking at the help she received from the Red Cross, Carol thought “I could do that.” So after her recovery she set about becoming a volunteer herself.
“I volunteer weekly for the home from hospital service I used, and twice a week for the Red Cross mobility aids service, lending out wheelchairs,” she said.
“When I first retired I used to spend my time watching the TV and reading books – I enjoyed it. But as soon as started volunteering, I realised that actually I had lots of spare time and that being busier meant I could actually achieve more.”
Helping people at home
As a home from hospital volunteer, Carol helps people with a range of activities. From changing bedsheets to having a chat over a cup of tea, she is a helping hand and a listening ear for people adjusting to life back at home.
“Usually when I see someone it’s a healthy person who’s broken a bone,” she said.
“I help get them to a point where they can safely look after themselves. Once they can get back on the bus, I know they’re okay,” Carol said.
Although Carol has osteoporosis and is unable to perform tasks that involve a lot of bending down or heavy lifting, she says that her condition does not pose any problems. She’s still able to help people.
“I find volunteering very rewarding because I have first-hand experience of what it’s like to be in that situation of needing support after being discharged from hospital,” Carol said.
“The only awkward thing about it is I’m forever being thanked! I just make sure they know I was also in their position so I know how grateful they are because that is how I felt.”
The people’s Carol’s met
Everyone Carol has met has had a genuine need for her support.
“Another younger lady I met was a pedestrian involved in a car accident. It wasn’t her fault, she was run down. She broke her pelvis in three places and was in hospital for a long time,” Carol said.
“When she was fit to leave, she was sent home in a taxi at 8pm at night to an empty house. The taxi driver had to help get her into her house which was good of him, but not his responsibility.
“The problem was this woman had just moved into the house the day she was knocked down. So it wasn’t a good house to be sent home to.
“She was referred to the Red Cross once she was at home and I went to visit her.
“Over the next few weeks, I took her places to get stuff for the house and made sure it was comfortable and safe.”