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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 July, 2004, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
The couples

Panorama spent four months filming with three couples who are still having to take on the NHS and fight every inch of the way for the health care their spouses deserve. Below is a brief biography of those couples.

Barbara and Malcolm
Malcolm was formerly a senior lecturer at Homerton College, Cambridge

Barbara and Malcolm

Malcolm, formerly a senior lecturer at Homerton College, Cambridge, started showing signs of Alzheimer's at the age of 51 in 1991.

His wife, Barbara, gave up work to look after him at home until 1998 when all her support systems (daycare, respite and a string of agency carers at home) collapsed and she felt that she had no alternative but to place Malcolm in a nursing home for the next 2 years.

In 2000, Malcolm started to fret, lose weight and look haunted and the professionals involved in his care felt that he was unhappy in the nursing home and that he probably didn't have much longer to live.

Consequently, Barbara brought him home in March of that year.

At this time, Malcolm was doubly incontinent, had to be fed, had no speech and little understanding of what was being said to him, sometimes hallucinated, and eventually lost all mobility at the end of 2000.

It was in April 2000 that Barbara first applied for NHS funded continuing care, so beginning her long and convoluted fight to keep Malcolm at home as he entered the final stages of Alzheimer's.

Peter and Ann
Former council leader Ann developed Alzheimer's at 49

Peter and Ann

Peter cares for his wife, Ann, who is 62 and also in the final stages of Alzheimer's.

She first developed the disease at the age of 49 when she was working as a teacher and as a local council leader. She is now completely bed-ridden and unable to speak. She's also doubly incontinent and has to have all her food liquidised.

Peter moves her (both to prevent congestion on her lungs and bed sores) and changes her every three hours. During the winter she had severe chest infections and developed Pneumonia. Peter first thought about applying for continuing care in January 2003 because he was determined to continue caring for his wife at home: "I gave Ann an assurance that she would stay with me. I would never let her go in a home, she would stay with me for good".

Freda and Michael

Michael was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and then Lewy body disease, five years ago.

In April 2002, they sold their house in Newcastle and bought a smaller one in Stratford upon Avon, to be close to their children. Unfortunately, the local day care centres refused to take Michael after a while as his disease progressed.

In December last year, Michael went into hospital for 10 days respite. He went in walking and very mobile, and came out totally unable to walk. Freda was shocked and frightened, and that made her resolve to care for him at home.

Freda hadn't heard of continuing care until a nurse mentioned it and had not idea how to apply for it. She discovered that she wasn't alone in not knowing where to turn for advice and help about continuing care.

Eventually, the district nurse was able to point her in the right direction. "Panorama: Fighting for Care" picks up her story from here.

Fighting for care
12 Jul 04 |  Panorama
The struggle with continuing care
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Where is your SHA?
18 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Continuing Care Q&A
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
16 Jul 04 |  Panorama

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