Angela has lived in her three-bedroomed house near Dorridge for 40 years.
The grandmother-of-four enjoys an active life in her community – playing bingo, volunteering at a local charity shop and lunching with family and friends.
Although she has rheumatoid arthritis, the 79-year-old former science teacher had no problems living alone, until she started to have dizzy spells and lose her balance.
“I fell many, many times,” she said. “I would suddenly feel that my legs were going and because I have arthritis, it’s hard to get up once I’ve fallen. I didn’t know what was happening.”
This culminated in Angela’s son and daughter-in-law finding her unconscious on the upstairs landing floor last year. They took her to her GP, who referred her straight to Solihull Hospital.
Hospital staff treated and discharged her the same day, but they and her family were concerned for her safety at home.
As a result, a social worker at the hospital referred her to Solihull Community Housing’s Safe and Sound service, which supports older or vulnerable Solihull people to live independently at home.
This support service is an example of the work of Solihull – Together for Better Lives. This is a partnership of local health and social care organisations that have put in place a programme, called Integrated Care and Support in Solihull (ICASS), to improve health and social care for older people.
Safe and Sound officer Debbie O’Meara arranged for an alarm unit, which is connected to a 24-hour emergency control centre and activated by pressing a pendant, to be installed at Angela’s house, together with a keysafe for easier access.
When she visited the house, she felt Angela would benefit from a Home Hazard Assessment to reduce the risk of falling.
Debbie spotted that since a new carpet had been laid in the lounge, there was a trailing telephone wire along the floor, and Angela had to tug on the door to open it.
She identified several other potential hazards. There was a tight turn at the top of the stairs, the back door step was too high for Angela to manage easily, and she was at risk of falling when she bent down to pick up her post from the floor.
Solihull Community Housing secured the telephone wire, planed the lounge door, fitted hand rails on the turn of the stairs and on the landing, installed two grab rails by the back door and fitted a container under her letterbox to collect the mail.
In addition, an occupational therapist at the housing organisation gave her a special support chair to help her in the bath.
Angela said: “Since the work was finished in November, I haven’t fallen at home at all.
“The whole experience has astounded me. I’m overwhelmed by all the help I’ve had – and it hasn’t cost me a penny.
“The biggest change is the rail at the top of the stairs. This makes me feel so much safer walking to the bathroom at night and going downstairs.
“I can now bring my shopping in at the front door without having to go backwards and forwards. The rails at the back door are a huge help, especially in the spring and summer, when I’m gardening.
“The care from everyone has been fantastic. Debbie is staying in touch to see how I’m getting on, and I have regular appointments at the hospital for checks.”
Steve Boyd, Chief Executive at Solihull Community Housing, said: “We’re delighted that the work we’ve carried out at Angela’s home has made such a difference to her life.
“This is a great example of how Solihull organisations work together to help older people stay independent at home and improve their health and wellbeing.”