Michael Waterworth’s Story

Michael was a successful barrister before his accident.

When Michael came to Highfield House in 2014, he had endured prolonged periods in the Royal London hospital neuro wards. Just over two years earlier he had suffered a traumatic brain injury following a fall down a flight of stairs. He was 40 years old and had been a successful barrister in Lincoln’s Inn. Married with two young children his and their worlds had been changed forever.

Michael’s injury left him crippled down his right side, doubly incontinent and severely cognitively impaired. He can, however, use his left hand and arm, see and hear and sometimes speak. Although communication is difficult, a combination of facial expressions and hand gestures, thankfully usually polite, have enabled those providing daily care to help him regain self-esteem and a sense of security.

Indeed, not long after his admission, he was heard to say ‘It’s OK here’. There have been other comments from him over the years. Another early one was ‘I want food’-yes, using his left hand (he was naturally right-handed) he eats a pureed lunch every day sitting in his wheelchair.

He is supervised of course but also encouraged to feed himself to enhance his quality of life. “Why” is a favourite word, and occasionally an emphatic “NO” sometimes accompanied by an expression and noises best left to the imagination. He has been known to apologise too; For example, “I can’t help it”!

With a combination of facial expressions, hand signals, like thumbs up or down and one of his favourites, a symbolic chop to the throat, usually combined with a grin illustrating his underlying sense of humour, he somehow manages to charm his way through the day and thanks to the empathy (some might say tolerance) of his carers (he smiles when we call the ladies among them his harem) he seems to have come to terms with his plight.

If he could talk, he would have to admit that the exemplary way in which he is cared for as well as encouraged and sometimes entertained, has made a huge contribution to his quality of life. In his way, when in the mood, he tries his best to acknowledge this and to cooperate with those who help and care for him.

Of course, he can behave less graciously at times, especially when he doesn’t want to be get up in the morning or when he wants to monopolise the lounge TV controller (the individual rooms are all equipped with TV) but for much of the time he is quietly content to be among the care staff listening to their conversation and left with his iPad which much to everyone’s surprise he is able to use largely unaided to read emails, surf the net, download and watch BBC iPlayer, get and read the Telegraph and do its Sudoku, which he completes daily.

michael-reading-a-book-on-his-ipad

He has learnt how to cheat too! He will do solitaire, navigate Google Earth looking for places where he lived or visited in the past and can read books off the screen.

This activity has been encouraged by the speech and language therapist and other care staff who ensure his iPad is charged up and accessible all the time. He is very appreciative of the help he is given even though he cannot find the words to express it. Visiting members of his family know this to be true and they are grateful for the unfailing friendly professionalism that can too easily be taken for granted.

covid-19 update

As the current COVID19 restrictions are being reduced, we are pleased to be able to welcome back visiting for two nominated visitors for ‘contact visiting’ with family members. Please contact the Home for further information and advice. All other family and friends visits can still occur in our COVID secure visitor pods.