How Contact Cares is providing a vital service in St Helens

Frank Doran
Frank Doran

A grieving man who was so malnourished from eating only biscuits he ended up on crutches is finally able to walk unaided again.

David Mitchell, 31, suffered a mental and physical breakdown following the death of his mum, which came the following year after his dad died in 2016.

David Mitchell

David Mitchell

One day last year David found his mum, who he cared for, collapsed at their family home in Garswood.

She was transferred to the intensive care unit at Whiston Hospital, where David stayed day and night until she died in April 2017.

After returning to his family home, David locked himself away from the outside world.

David was eventually diagnosed with nerve and muscle damage in his legs due to the malnutrition and inactivity.

David Mitchell, Kath Miller And Frank Doran

David Mitchell, Kath Miller And Frank Doran

David’s harrowing story features in one of a series of case studies made by St Helens CCG.

Speaking in the video, David said: “When I came back home that’s when it really hit me.

“The house was really dark and seeing where my mum had collapsed, I couldn’t stand it and I went to bed and just stayed there.

“I wasn’t eating anything except biscuits or seeing anyone.

“Basically, I wasn’t coping at all and I supposed you could say I had a massive breakdown.”

While in hospital, David was referred to Contact Cares, part of St Helens’ integrated care service, St Helens Cares.

David was discharged from hospital after several weeks and began to turn his life around with the help of the Contact Cares team, who helped move him to an intermediate care centre to continue his rehabilitation before helping secure a transitional tenancy on a flat in St Helens with continued support.

Now walking without crutches, David watched his story for the first time at the Contact Cares launch event held at Whiston Hosptial this week.

He admitted feeling “emotional” watching himself on film and seeing how far he has come.

David said: “In January I couldn’t walk. I was struggling to move from hospital bed to hospital bed.

“To now, being able to walk around and come to this event and not have to use crutches, it’s a massive, massive, step.

“They’ve helped me massively, whether it’s been emotionally and physically.

“But from not being able to walk and get out of bed to come here and walk around and try and be as normal as I can be at the minute – it’s a massive step for me.”

Formerly the IASH (Integrated Access St Helens) service, Contact Cares is intended to be the first point of contact for help and advice on health and social care needs.

The Contact Cares ‘front door’ currently features around 350 staff from five organisations including St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Torus and St Helens Council.

Frank Doran, the former Lord Mayor of Liverpool and councillor for more than 30 years, believes St Helens Cares should be replicated across the country.

Frank, 68, had his life turned upside down after being diagnosed with posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), a rare form of dementia, in 2013.

Frank, who lives in Rainhill with his wife Sandra, was referred to Contact Cares through his GP after he began to feel more and more isolated.

A support worker from Contact Cares helped Frank apply for funds to help cover the cost of his support, which enabled Sandra to go to a carers’ centre and for Frank to attend a day centre.

Frank, a former Army Sergeant Major in the Parachute Regiment, believes St Helens’ integrated care model should be seen as best practice for supporting people with dementia.

Frank said: “I have a debt of gratitude to them because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today in having the support I’m having.

“I think they’re working wonders in supporting people in the community and I think it is important this is rolled out elsewhere.

“I think this is best practice as far as dealing with people with dementia and I think it should be rolled out to a whole range of other local authorities, some of which don’t have a clue how to deal with it.”

David, Frank and two other St Helens residents who have shared their personal stories, Amanda Wilde and pensioner Kath Miller, all attended the Contact Cares launch event at Whiston Hospital.

After hearing their stories, Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South, said: “It was wonderful because they’d have had a very miserable existence now had St Helens Cares services not been there.

“They feel important, they feel that they matter, and they would have been very lonely people now.

“Instead they are very happy people and praising everybody that’s been involved. It’s wonderful.”

You can self-refer to Contact Cares or be referred by a professional working with you.

The Contact Cares service is open from 8am to 10pm every day and can be contacted on 01744 676767.