My beginning with Active Independence was in the car park of Asda, Doncaster. It was shortly before the AGM 2013 and all I knew about Direct Payment was a comment from my Support Dog’s trainer. She’d suggested I look into it as some clients had been able to get some funding towards the care of their Support Dog.
In the car park I sat in the open car with my Support Dog, Siân, waiting for my husband, Peter, to come out of the store. What happened next was to change my life as I knew it. Across the car park, towards me, came 2 people ~ Barbara Booton & Brian Button. They invited me to come and talk about life with an assistance dog at the AGM of Active Independence. I said, “Yes,” not realising the chain of events that was to unfold.
After the AGM, I spoke to Barbara about the system for applying for Direct Payment and after a subsequent conversation with Brian, I asked him to set the wheels in motion for my application to Doncaster MBC. At each stage an Advocate from Active Independence supported me on my nervous way forward. They knew more about the subject than the so-called professionals and attended every meeting with me.
The assessment of my care needs I found very stressful ~ having strangers traipsing through my home at some point in a 4 hour time slot, twice a day. After 10 weeks, 4 long meetings and numerous ‘phone-calls, the advertisement for my Personal Assistants had gone out and Brian helped me to interview 5 applicants. Within 2 weeks my care package was up and running. There have been a few teething problems but for the first time in 10 years I feel like a clean member of the human race ~ I didn’t realise just how bad things had got and I thank God for people like Barbara, Brian and Philip, plus my family and P.A.s. Also, for Siân…
Siân is a lurcher-cross that we’ve had from the age of 10 weeks. She was trained by Support Dogs after my 25 years of Type 1 Diabetes led to increasing health problems. Siân is a dedicated carer who follows me faithfully at home and is permitted to be with me anywhere, even in food-preparation areas. Her task-work involves picking up objects such as the post or finding a ringing ‘phone; raising the alarm e.g. barking should I fall; helping me remove articles of clothing such as socks; helping me to hang out the washing and using a “push” action, whether it be to open a push button door or to close a room door at home.
She is irreplaceable but that is about to change as on her tenth birthday, 31 March 2014, she retires. My subsequent dog will hopefully have the added bonus of being able to detect my progressively worsening and increasingly frequent hypoglycaemic attacks. However, this is dependent upon the necessary agencies being available to work together and the correct dog being found.
What a difference a chance meeting in a car park can make! The next part is applying for funding for my Support Dog. Hmmm!?
Angela C. Cooke