NHS worker thanks therapists for helping brother walk again after COVID-19 diagnosis

Monday 12 October 2020

Derick Ringshall with his therapists

An NHS engineer has praised Guy's and St Thomas' community therapists for helping his 71-year-old brother walk again after contracting COVID-19 in March.

Derick Ringshall from Lewisham, who has a learning disability, was admitted to hospital at the start of the lockdown after displaying signs of the virus, including shortness of breath, a high temperature and a persistent cough. People with learning disabilities can sometimes need more support to understand why they require health treatment and may refuse care.

Due to a fear of falling and anxiety about being in the hospital environment, Derick became less confident, reluctant to stand up or take part in therapy sessions and became fully reliant on nursing staff to hoist him out of bed.

Before going into hospital Derick lived in supported accommodation and carried out many everyday tasks independently, like making a simple meal, and he also had a part time job in a local bakery.

Once the Adults with Learning Disabilities community team became involved in Derick’s care, they provided him with intensive rehabilitation to help him walk again and the support to carry out tasks like washing and dressing himself.

Derick's brother, Gary Ringshall, a shift engineer at Guy's and St Thomas', said: "Working in a hospital myself and seeing what was going on, I knew that Derick would be very frightened and wondering why everyone was wearing masks. I wanted to be able to visit him and to explain what was happening and to tell him that we hadn't forgotten him”.

"Sarah Donovan (his occupational therapist at Guy's and St Thomas'), and the physiotherapists were really good.

"He'd been sitting down for so long it's like his legs seized up and he couldn't walk properly. But they soon had him on a frame and walking up and down."

Sarah Donovan from Guy's and St Thomas' Adults with Learning Disabilities Team, said: "It was quite a dramatic decline for Derick. He was in hospital for a month being nursed in bed with COVID-19 and eventually lost weight, the strength in his legs, and was unable to walk or manage the stairs.

“Derick became demotivated and reluctant to have therapy. Because of this there were plans for him to go into a nursing home rather than return home.

"We found the key to Derick’s recovery was linking his therapy to the things he likes doing, and his normal routine, like encouraging him to walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and doing his laundry.

“By using various equipment, and working with the physiotherapists and his support workers, our team helped Derick to walk again.

“Thankfully, after two months of intensive rehabilitation, Derick made progress and has returned back to the place he calls home.”

Gary Ringshall added: "He's near enough back to 100 per cent. Words aren't enough to thank Sarah and the team."

The Trust employs around 1,000 Allied Health Professionals, including therapists, who work at our hospitals and in the community.

Last updated: October 2020

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