Tula and Hamish in their home


Hamish's Story

“It was late 2015 and my lovely late wife Petula (Tula) had been battling a brain tumour for almost 3 long years. She had done fantastically well and defied all medical expectations and predictions, mainly due to her sheer determination to keep going. However, in October 2015, she had a particularly bad seizure which left her hospitalised, long-term bed-bound and immobile for the first time since becoming ill. Up to that point, she had largely managed to take care of herself, and most things she couldn’t do herself we took care of as a family. However, this latest seizure changed everything. 

“It was heartbreaking to watch my wife’s health deteriorating, and her requiring more and more care. Although Tula was cared for wonderfully well in hospital, it was very obvious to me that she wanted to be at home. Speech was becoming very difficult for her, but the last full sentence she was able to say to me was “I want to go home”. This made me very determined to try to make this happen.

“It was explained to me in hospital that in order to get Tula home, she would need two carers at a time for three of four visits of probably one hour per day, and that the council wouldn’t be able to provide this level of care using their own carers. Until that point I hadn’t realised the difficulty involved in finding that amount of care for her, and I was starting to doubt if we’d ever get her home. I was made aware of SDS and Option 1 Direct Payment, meaning the council could pay us direct to employ our own carers. But in order to do this I had to become the “employer” and deal with interviews, timesheets, payroll, employee welfare etc., which seemed pretty daunting. However, after meeting with my Cornerstone SDS Advisor I decided to go to a Cornerstone workshop in Inverurie, which provided lots of meaningful advice on how to be a good employer. At this workshop it became obvious that there was no need to be intimidated, because help is provided for all the things I was concerned about.

“I came away from that workshop with renewed determination to make it happen, and more confident having met other people in similar positions, who were already making it happen for their loved ones. With the help of our ever-helpful and always positive Cornerstone SDS Advisor Denise, we set about trying to find carers. It took several weeks to interview and recruit our carers, but we ended up with about 10 that we could call on, and a core team of six.

“We eventually got the green light to bring Tula home in late March. Although by this time she was desperately unwell, it was written all over her face how glad she was to be at home. Sadly, Tula passed away on 5th July 2015, but during her last three months, her carers went above and beyond the call of duty in looking after her. We were able to do things that simply wouldn’t have been possible if Tula had been in hospital, or if we had the council’s own carers calling at rigid times. I even became good friends with a few of our carers, because you find yourselves thrown together in a bad situation, working together as a very tight-knit team.

“I miss my wife terribly every day, but I’ll always be glad SDS made it possible to get her home like she wanted, and it gave us those precious final three months together in our own home. I’m glad I pushed for it to happen, and would do it all over again.”