14 May 2024

Quick-thinking homecare assistant comes to aid of woman needing medical attention

The quick-thinking actions of a homecare assistant meant a woman who fell ill at a church service was given swift medical attention.

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Jack Monopoli, recruitment coordinator at Westmorland Homecare's South Lakeland branch, presents flowers to Helen Manning in recognition of her actions helping a woman who fell ill at a church

Helen Manning, a long-time carer at Westmorland Homecare’s South Lakeland branch, calmy assessed the situation and called for an ambulance, while at the same time giving reassurance to the client she was looking after and frightened members of the congregation.

The woman was subsequently taken to hospital and is now recovered.

“Helen reacted superbly in a difficult and evolving situation,” said Dr Chris Moss, a director with Westmorland Homecare. “She was observant to spot that the woman had fallen ill, swiftly called for an ambulance and was considerate of everyone around her.

“What she did epitomises the caring ethos of Westmorland Homecare and all of its staff.”

Westmorland Homecare provides hundreds of hours of care each week to enable vulnerable and often frail people over the age of 18 to live independently in their own home. Its services include homecare, such as help with housekeeping and meal preparation, and personal care, which includes help with medication, dressing, bathing and living their life to the full.

The incident happened at St Mary’s Church at Windermere, where Helen had taken one of her clients. “We were sitting waiting for the service to start and I noticed in front of me that a lady said to the lady beside her ‘Are you alright?’ and there was no response,” said Helen.

“I thought ‘I’ll just monitor this’ and I asked my client if she minded if I went to help the lady. She said ‘no, go to her’ so I went to sit beside her, took hold of her hand to feel the weight and she lost my grip and her hand fell to the side. At that point I thought ‘I need to bounce into action here’.”

The service had started by then so Helen went out into the hallway and called the emergency services. The operator asked her various questions and Helen went back inside to find out the lady’s name and age from her companion and passed these on.

The lady started to regain consciousness and Helen went back to ask her client if she was alright on her own. She said she was so Helen sat with the lady who was ill until paramedics arrived and she was able to tell them everything that had happened.

Helen was also keen to reassure some members of the congregation, who were frightened by the incident. “Once you are a carer you are always a carer,” said Helen. “I did not want anyone going away feeling bad or sad because it looked like everything was going to be alright.

“I then said to my client: ‘Let’s go and get you a cup of coffee and a biscuit - it has been a big shock for everyone.”

She added that being a carer for many years meant she had become accustomed to noticing if anything was ‘out of sync’ with another person. For example, a client might become a little confused due to being dehydrated in hot weather. “It is there all the time, it never leaves you and you are never off duty,” said Helen.

She also praised the first aid training she and other Westmorland Homecare staff received regularly from Dr Moss. “One thing that stuck in my mind was how important it is to make the call to emergency services if you are unsure what to do – you know then that help is on its way and an operator is talking to you and telling you what to do. It takes the pressure off you and you can do whatever you need to do until the paramedics arrive.”

Dr Moss added that when there appeared to be a serious medical incident calling the emergency services was vital and could save lives. “In this case Helen did exactly the right thing,” he said.

Ian Durrell, the warden at St Mary's Church, said: “Helen was accompanying her client to our church when she noticed that one of the other members of our congregation was unwell and had started to lose consciousness.

“Helen stepped into the breach, coordinated the first-aid response, called the ambulance and stayed with the patient until she had made a handover to the paramedics - all while ensuring that her client was safe and well. 

 “She acted with professionalism and discretion at all times. Many thanks to Helen from myself and all the other members of our church family.”

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