How Dee View Court’s Self-Management service helps me stay well with MS

Left to right: Support Worker Hazel Ferguson; Stanley; Support Worker Stacey Watt; and Dee View Court's Clinical Nurse Specialist Julie Scoullar.

Our Dee View Court care centre runs a free Self-Management service for local people with neurological conditions in the city of Aberdeen. The service is designed to equip people like Stanley McLean – who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 12 years ago – with the tools, skills and long-term support they need to manage their own health and wellbeing at home. Here, Stanley writes about why this type of support is so valuable to people like him.

When I heard about Dee View’s new Self-Management Service, I was relieved.

It’s my goal to stay as independent as possible and keep doing things for myself, and anything that can help me to achieve that is a great thing.

Once I said I was interested in the service, getting started was a simple process. Following an assessment, I was matched with my support worker Hazel and we started working together straight away.

She tells me the service is all about building your confidence and integrating more in your local community, but to me it’s just like having a friend. We go for walks together, to a café, to the shops; whatever I want to do.

Company and understanding

It helps me no end to know I have a friend like Hazel who I can call and talk to if I need it. Most of the time I’m not too bad really, but if I feel lonely or low, I know she’s at the end of the phone and I can let her know how I feel.

The company is priceless; there’s nothing worse than being stuck at home, depressed and isolated.

Just talking to or seeing someone who knows and understands MS, even one day a week, can make a big difference – it does to me.

Opening doors to the community

A lot of people with MS have day-to-day help from a nurse or personal carers, but I don’t as yet and, hopefully, if I just take my time, as Hazel says, I can keep caring for myself.

It’s my hands and my feet that are the problem – they’re always so cold – and the dizziness. But I’m not too bad really, considering how it can affect some people. My brother David died from MS when he was just 42. He was left in a really bad state, stuck in the house on his own all the time. He was in a wheelchair so he could get about, but he didn’t like to because he didn’t have anywhere to go.

David was one of those people who can talk and talk for hours (so much so that you’d get sick of him yammering on!), so this kind of sociable service would have been perfect for him.

Having nothing to do is the worst thing, I reckon. Learning to self-manage my condition has shown me that you need something constructive going on to make you feel useful and to give you purpose.

That’s why I’ve started volunteering at my local Sue Ryder shop, which is fantastic and going really well. The service helped me set up an appointment with the shop manager Brenda, and now I volunteer one afternoon a week.

So far I’m managing fine working there by myself, but Hazel’s staying in touch with me over the next few weeks, while I settle in, in case I need a hand. Hopefully I’ll meet some new people through volunteering and it will help me become even more independent.

Maintaining my independence

The most important thing that the Self-Management service has taught me is to be patient, don’t rush and take my time. It can be frustrating – I can’t just do the same things I used to because I don’t have the energy – but I’ve learned to accept that my life is different now and I have to slow down.

Hazel helps me to plan ahead a lot more; we plan my week so that if I’ve got something big coming up – like a social event or travelling – I’m rested, which is really important. You’ve got to strike a fine balance between doing too little and doing too much.

I was saying to Hazel today that the small things in life – the things you often take for granted – are the really important things. I love just sitting at home, in the peace and quiet, having a cup of tea. I appreciate those moments so much now and feel very lucky to still be able to do those simple things for myself.

Are you interested in this service?

If you live in Aberdeen and think you, or someone you know, may benefit from the Self-Management Service, our Dee View Court team would love to hear from you.