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A week in the life: Parkinson’s Self Help Group

17 April 2013

This week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week, with events going on all round the country to highlight the issues faced by people suffering from this debilitating and incurable condition. For the last sixteen years Ruby Armstrong has worked for the BIG-funded Parkinson’s Self Help Group (North Lanarkshire). Here she describes how Parkinson’s Awareness Week is going for her.

Ruby Armstrong My granny had Parkinson’s years ago before the medical advances there are today and I loved her dearly. So, in 1997 when my mum suggested I help out as a volunteer bus escort with PSHG (following my kids going off to school) I did, and honestly I have never looked back. Here at PSHG –  or Parkies, as we affectionately call it – staff, volunteers, people with Parkinson’s and carers thrive in a warm and friendly atmosphere. We are a family and work hard together to maintain this relationship.

Now, as Centre Coordinator with a terrific team of staff (Jim, Alison and Rachel), volunteers, therapists and members, I like many others live for the day when we’re out of a job – ie when a cure is found. Until then we go on…

Parkinson’s Awareness Week is of course busier than other weeks at PSHG. It lets us appreciate the members we have, and it also allows us to reach out to other people with Parkinson’s, their carers and families. It’s our chance to highlight the work we do here at PSHG and the work of others who continually support them in their daily lives.

This week

Monday – A carers consultation, with Sean and Pauline representing carers services. Nine of our carers came in to discuss the services they have received from our local Council/Social work services over the years. Carers held varied views on support they have received, but first and foremost, as always, is compassion, both for the carer and the cared-for. This was found by them all to be sadly lacking when people are receiving care. They all stayed for around three hours and had a very productive day and some great conversation having their opinions heard.

Tuesday – We had our usual group meeting – 18 folks managed to come along, with a few absent due to minor ailments and three in hospital (Get well soon x). Our members are made up of parkies, carers, ex-carers and a couple of social members. We have six volunteers per day and a whole lot of banter (there’s a good Scottish word for you). People visiting our centre often remark on how cheerful and how much of a buzz there is about the place (we love being at work in the offices upstairs and hearing them all roaring with laughter downstairs). Today was no different and after a tasty two-course lunch, a game of prize bingo, complementary therapies and a visit from Jim’s (Facility Manager) daughter and seven month old grandson Lewis, everyone went home chattering (not from the cold this time).

Parkinson’s Self Help Group

Wednesday – Our Newly Diagnosed Discussion Group meets today, we also have the Respite Lounge open (staffed by volunteers) where members can pop in for a snack or lunch. (This has been a fantastic service since it started in January 2012 – we wish we’d done it years ago). It brings our folks out of the house and offers companionship more days per week and being on a drop-in basis, we never know who we’re getting through the door.

Thursday – Games Day with members of the Motherwell Area PSHG. It’s the return leg of a friendly – fought tournament where we hold the Cup from our last meeting. So the playing cards will be out, dominoes of course, pool and darts (yes, parkies and darts  Oliver Twardowski - ). (On a previous Games night we also had a darts board on the floor, so when the darts bounced off the board the score on the floor was still recorded). Our local newspaper photographer Tom will be along to record the event and Margaret, our cook will knock up a scrummy buffet to feed all 40 of us!!

Friday – A half day for me. This Friday the Respite Lounge is open again – it’s the busiest day of the week. A local group Clubnet meet in our Centre and we’re off to a Coatbridge Indoor Bowling club where VOEF (an older people’s forum) and CHAPS (a male carers organisation) are holding an information day. We’ll be there from 10am till 12 noon with information and networking with other voluntary groups.

Next week at PSHG – well who knows what it will bring? At the end of it though me, my hubby Sandy, workmate Jim and Uncle Jimmy are off to walk The Great Glen Way (93 miles) from Fort William to Inverness over five days. This is the fourth of our annual sponsored walks for PSHG.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Irene cunningham permalink
    18 April 2013 8:15 am

    I cannot tell you how much help these people have been to my husband and I over the past few years. They make us so welcome and they knowledge they have acquired is tremendous . I have struggled since January with a broken leg. Which restricts the way I can help my husband. They helped me to learn about the support that was available through social work.

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