Sue Doyle cared for her mother-in-law whilst she recovered from a hip fracture. Here, she tells us about the importance of carers and the newly published support available to help them in their role.
On the day before her 90th birthday, my mother-in-law fractured her left hip. She had already fractured the right hip 4 years earlier.
As her carer, I understand that the days, weeks, even months following a hip fracture are not easy. It is a difficult, emotional and worrying time for the patient and those who are close to them. Suddenly, the familiarity of home is taken away and the patient, once independent, has now been forced to rely on others for care.
I’ll admit that the overall experience following my mother-in-law’s hip fractures was at times confusing, not least tiring. It would have been easy to feel helpless, to have taken a step back and left it to the ‘professionals’. But I soon realised that I had an important part to play. If not for me, how else would the hospital team have known about my mother-in-law’s routine and independence before her fracture? How else would they have known that she was previously mobile, did her own cooking and was able to leave the house for short walks? How else would they have known that she was partially deaf and had poor eyesight? Making this information available ensured that the hospital team treated my mother-in-law as an individual and that they were able to communicate effectively and in such a manner that both she and I knew exactly what was happening along the way.
The online carer’s guide has been designed to help carers like myself recognise the importance of our role in hip fracture care, as well as know about the steps we can take to seek the right support when we need it. All of the information provided is rooted in the first-hand experience of members of the Falls and Fragility Fracture Audit Programme’s Patient and Carer Panel, to which I belong. Through insight as a carer herself, the panel’s chair, Julia Ellis, identified a need to inform and support carers during what can be a very difficult time. Her enthusiasm and knowledge have been the foundation for this resource, which I believe empowers carers and patients alike to strive for the best possible outcome of hip fracture; I wish this information had been available to me when my mother-in-law had her fractures.
Different sections focus on information that you need when caring for someone who has broken their hip. These cover each step of the patient pathway, including advice on how to look after yourself and where to go for extra support. The information is accessible and relevant; it will not only help to reduce anxiety, but will empower you to support hip fracture care and recovery.
Fortunately, soon after my mother-in-law returned home from hospital, she began to regain independence little by little and was even able to walk short distances with the help of a walking aid. It would have been easy to lose hope along the way, but it is important for carers and patients to remember that, with good care and time, fractures do heal. This resource is not only a source of information, but a reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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A carer’s guide to hip fracture aims to ensure that carers are equipped with the information they need to support the recovery of the person in their care.