Ray Rundle (left) and Jack Bonnington

We call it ‘revolving door syndrome’. It’s when an older person leaves hospital, goes home, doesn’t have the right help and support, falls or relapses, and ends up going in and out of the ward again.

I’m the Manager of MHA’s Horsforth Live at Home scheme. My work is all about promoting independence and well-being for older people living in their own homes. So when I was approached by Leeds City Council to help them improve quality of life for older people in the community I decided we should address the problem of revolving door syndrome. We teamed up with the local British Red Cross and now we’ve got a scheme in place whereby volunteers visit older people in hospital, and stay in touch after they’ve gone home. They can help with things like food shopping and remembering medicine. But most of all they prevent that terrible isolation and loneliness that make proper recovery so hard for so many people.

Like 85-year-old Jack Bonnington. He had a stroke and was in and out of hospital, finding it very hard to cope on his own. But after being referred to HomeWard, he met our volunteer and LAH member Ray Rundle. 

The change has been amazing. Ray has also had a stroke, so Jack had someone to talk to who understood what he was going through. Ray visited Jack in hospital and continued going to see him after he went home. They chat about their lives, their families and their shared interests – sports, classics, chess. When Jack wanted to go for a walk to build up his stamina, Ray drove him to the park and accompanied him. Jack said that Ray’s encouragement and support helped him to go further that he would otherwise have done. They’re now firm friends, which is really wonderful.

I’m so glad that HomeWard is helping people like Jack recover – leaving hospital is only one stage of getting better. Recovering from something which hospitalised you is hard enough. Nobody should have to suffer from revolving door syndrome on top of that.

Tracy Brierly

Manager, Horsforth Live at Home

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