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Monday, 20 February 2017

When I'm more than I thought I could be

“When I’m more than I thought I could be”! By Kate Blake

“When I’m more than I thought I could be”! By Kate Blake

When we are young we believe that we have our lives mapped out.  For some if you are lucky it happens according to plan and for others, if illness comes calling it can change everything and you have to either sink or draw on some extraordinary resources to start swimming. 

Looking back over my life I can plot various stages

  • My childhood which probably developed my sense of fun and my ability to laugh at myself

  • My teenage years and my hopes for a future career, but giving it up to settle down in a loving relationship of my own and having my daughter

  • At 40 feeling that I had tumbled from a great height when my husband became ill and recognising that he would not be able to work anymore, changing into work mode and balancing his life, my family’s life  and others all at the same time

  • At 50 finding ourselves in a heavily entrenched legal case and arguments as to why his company was responsible for his and his others colleague’s illnesses and deaths
  • Losing our home for 28 years because of a failed five years’ legal case, which despite the overwhelming evidence was never going to go anywhere as it would have opened up so many other cans of worms.

  • Giving my job up as my husband illness progressed, but running backwards and forwards to family a couple of days a month ensure their safety in care in the community and a care home
  • Experiencing my Mum dying of abuse, similarly my Mother-in-Law and transferring my Father-in-law to an excellent care home for the last couple of years of his life

  • Dad going into the local hospital after suffering a stroke and fighting the NHS when he was left to die without adequate end of life care, transferring him back to the home for a great and loving death surrounded by his family and carers.

  • Coping with my husband’s progressive health conditions and understanding the difficulties that finding good caring with understanding and consistent support is not a given.  

  • At 60 setting up a national Charity - recognising that life goes on despite all it throws at you, and that you can become bitter twisted and selfish, or using your experiences to count your blessings and make the most of the rest of your life.

At the beginning when our lives changed it was rather like going through an elongated child birth without the benefits, painful and seemingly never ending. 

Not knowing why we constantly went round on the NHS Hamster Wheel of Shame without a diagnosis or support, and then asking why my husband’s legal team did not want to take, what I believed to be a very interesting case, to court. 

Gradually I needed to to come out from under my previous security blanket, earn a living to keep our home, and to find a way to bring all the evidence I knew that was out there to court. 

I really did not have much choice, the only person that could do that, find the witnesses to support it and to resource knowledge, information, reports, clinicians health professionals, professional support and other witnesses to present legal statements and arguments, medical test, and failing occupational health, safety and chemical standards, was me, and then later, my husband boss. 

It helped that I had been working and setting the standard for the Watchdog in the Newspaper and Magazine industry and, through better communications, improve their reporting standards. 

After finding the lengths that our own Lawyers and their compatriots went to keep the truth hidden was hard enough to cope with, as was being left penniless after working so hard for so long to keep our home, but seeing both Mums whom I so loved, being abused and neglected because I was not on hand to prevent, was a devastating blow!

After my Mum died the Local Authority sent me a bill for her care, I was furious! 
It was at that point that I said “enough is enough” and after they apologised and admitted to her death, I really started to think about the real problems people were faced with, when suffering abysmal care, abuse and wilful neglect, and to look for some of the real answers which would prevent it happening to others in the future. 

As I looked around at those that you expect to be able to make a difference to people’s care, I believed that for whatever reason, nothing improved and nothing was changing. 

So I changed, came a bit move vocal and started to work on ideas that I felt were achievable, practical and supportive for everyone receiving and delivering care and which I believed would lead to improved and outstanding care for everyone.

I am not a special person, I am just someone that cares passionately about people, but when you start to open your eyes as to what is going on around in care, there becomes a time when we all feel we need to take a bit of responsibility for our own and our family’s destiny.

Surprisingly those that know me well, know that underneath the full on “Essex Girl”, I am quite shy and lack confidence. But I knew that if I want to meet the challenges in our Crisis in Care and I think I have something to say that will make a big difference to others lives, then regardless of my own insecurities, I needed to stand up to the mark. 

In the last year I have been blessed with a team of people coming into this Foundation, who complement each other perfectly in their attitudes, ability and skills, and together they have taken my dreams of outstanding care to heights, that even I, never imaged. 

I quote our Patron’s the Countess of Mar’s words: “The Foundation benefits countless thousands of patients in the UK by spreading the word that a little kindness and compassion in all our interactions will go an awfully long way. Loving kindness can never be a one-way transaction – it will always come back to you in buckets full if you show it to others”.

Looking back, it simply means that the success of the Foundation is based on starting a good reason for others to believe; that they too can be “more than I thought I could be”!
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