Jayne Knight on why her family is able to spend this Christmas together

Why being 'in control' means so much this Christmas

Jayne Knight's mum



This Christmas will be the first time in eight years that my family will all be together. My brother is coming home from Australia and my parents, aged 84 and 81, will see four of their grandchildren now aged 19, 16 and twins of 13. Just imagine the joy of all of us going out for lunch as a family of 16 on Christmas Day.

Eight years ago it was a different story. Following my brothers departure to Australia, my mother Jean, always a keen supporter of people with disabilities, a Samaritan, volunteer at a mental health centre and member of the Epilepsy society, started to decline in her health. A series of undiagnosed strokes combined with sadness at the departure of part of her family resulted in severe symptoms of dementia and physical disability.

She was offered a service from the local authority - two staff, three times a day for short periods of time. It was a long and woeful story of poor service, frequent changes in staff, a lack of knowledge of her conditions and a negligence that left my mother dying. The GP even offered my father the chance to 'let her slip away peacefully'.

But, through the sheer determination of a man who refused to let his wife of nearly 60 years 'slip away', he fought the system that seem determined to make him a widower. With my help, my father and I managed to get mum a personal budget - only once he had threatened to carry her out of hospital on his back mind! The system was insulted that he felt he could care for her just as well as they had - I leave you to think about that.

We were also told she would never walk again and would need special adaptations and equipment at home.

But this Christmas will see my mother walk into our family meal. And this can only be attributed to the team that now supports her. One of her team is an orthopaedic nurse, the other is a trainee occupational therapist. Another is a superb supporter and hairdresser - she is just as important to my mother: she is fashionable and likes to look nice and with her team's support she does.

The value of the team is shown through many such examples, and more such as when she fractured her hip three years ago. She was soon home, with no increase necessary in her support hours and back on her feet in no time.

We owe these personal assistants the world. My mum and dad could not do without them and importantly my mum loves her time with them - she's always sorting out all their troubles.

When my mother celebrated her 80th she requested a Spanish evening. She danced that evening and sang some lovely old songs her father used to sing. Oh by the way, Jean hates shopping malls and garden centres. Her days out are with mediums and séances - that's what she really likes and so does one of her personal assistants. They go together as friends. I'm just glad they don't ask me!

Yes this Christmas is going to be just great and without the care of my dad, the carers, me, the rest of her family and friends - and yes, the personal budget, my mother would not be here to celebrate it.

There could be no better reason to fully endorse personal budgets and be thankful that this, and every Christmas, due to her personal budget she is 'in control' of her life.

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Last Updated : 24 December 2013. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.