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By GreaterSport | 19 November 2021 | TAGS: Stories, physical activity, Covid-19, Covid-19 recovery, Wigan

Stephen is 43 years old and lives in Hindley Green with his Partner and Stepson. Stephen’s job is a Facilities Manager, which means he is active within his job role as well as some desk work. Stephen has always kept himself active over the years and enjoyed walking on his days off.

In February 2021 Stephen contracted COVID 19, he became very unwell at home and his partner who is a nurse noticed a vast decline in Stephen, so she contacted the ambulance who took Stephen into hospital. After 3 days he was taken to ICU and placed in a coma for 19 days. When Stephen was brought out of the coma, he remained in ICU but had infections and his temperature remained very high, he was then put back into a coma for a further 16 days. Stephen was moved on a general ward for 2 weeks before being discharged home.

When Stephen came home, he could not walk more than 10 steps using a wheeled Zimmer frame, his bed was brought downstairs as he could not get upstairs and he struggled to even sit up in bed. Wigan Council's Reablement team were brought in and set up a service on the day Stephen came home from hospital. He needed two Support Workers to support him and had four visits a day to help with personal care, meals, mobility and transfers. Stephen also had other equipment brought in to help him such as perching stools and raising his bed to enable to get up easier as he was struggling to stand with the height that his bed was.

The Reablement team referred Stephen to Be Well, within Wigan Council to support with home exercise.

Zara Kelly, one of the Wellbeing Specialist Instructors with Be Well (Wigan Council) shares the journey she went on with Stephen.

“The first visit I went to see Stephen I completed a health screening form which identified he has no underlying health conditions before COVID and everything he was now struggling with was due to the virus. Stephen explained he was very breathless and fatigued but was very keen to build up his strength and was determined from day one. I explained we would need to start off slow and only do small amounts of activity. I asked Stephen if I could observe him walk using his Zimmer frame. He struggled to get up from the bed and but managed by pushing himself up, he walked to the kitchen which was the next room and back but was very slow walking and breathless. I also noticed he was putting a lot of his weight though his upper body and the Zimmer frame to take the pressure from the lower body.  I left Stephen with a small amount of exercise for the first visit which was three mobility exercises and the portable cycle pedals that he has also showed interest in. Each week I visited Stephen I could see improvement and we added on more exercises that involved using a resistance band to build up muscle strength and seated cardio exercises to improve his exercise tolerance such as the cycle pedals and marching legs and arms.

“Due to Stephen’s determination and the motivation and support he has daily from the Reablement team going through his exercises with him he was progressing all the time and he was also able to reduce the visits he needed from Reablement. By week four I was able to get Stephen standing behind a chair and exercising stood up with the support of the chair if he needed it. He has also begun to use his Zimmer frame less and his confidence was building mobilising around the house.

“From the first day I met Stephen his goal was to be able to go out in the car with his partner and take her for a meal and to also get upstairs to have a shower. Reablement organised for an Occupational Therapist to visit him to do a stairs assessment which went really well, and he was very happy to be able to have a shower, Stephen also has been able to get out for the meal that he wanted to and found he managed well getting in and out of the car and has said he could tell his leg muscles were stronger. One of the Reablement support workers came out to shadow me on one of the visits to observe how I worked with Stephen so that she could support him in his exercise which meant that Stephen was getting the best support he could which also helped him progress.

“Another frustration for Stephen was being able to do a sit to stand exercise from his couch, he felt he had to stay on his bed because of this so I worked with him on his sit to stand and explained the leg exercises we gave him would build his strength up to be able to do this. We practiced Sit to stand each visit and on week six he completed an independent Sit to stand not having to use his hands to push himself up just pushing up with his leg muscles, this was a great achievement and one that made him extremely happy.

“Throughout my 6 weeks with Stephen, he was always appreciative of the care and support he received from both Reablement and Active Ageing. His confidence grew each time I saw him, and I could see his improvements were because he put the effort into doing his exercises 4-5 times a week even though he suffered with pain in his feet all the way through. Stephen has recently had some swelling in his ankles which he is waiting for an x-ray and bloods to be done and has asked us to put him on hold until he can get this sorted however he is continuing his upper body exercises and only using a walking stick at the odd time in the house when he feels he needs extra support.”

From Stephen’s perspective;

“I have been so impressed with the services from day one, as soon as I was out of hospital, I was offered support to help me get back on my feet literally. From being in a scary position of not being able to sit up in bed or even walk to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea it has not only improved my physical health but also my mental health. I am really happy with the service and have been able to get out a walk around the block a few times which seemed an impossibility weeks ago. I have gained 2 stone of the 4 stone I lost but feel I have put it back on in all the right places and I can see the muscle I have put on through the exercises. My confidence was definitely knocked and having someone with me has made a difference to me being able to get some of that back”.

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