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New lease of life after life-changing surgery for Marske resident

Jean Downey Starts at Home Day A ka

A Marske lady has been given her life back following serious health issues after moving into her new home at independent living scheme, The Dunes.

Jean Downey, 75, who worked all her life from the age of 15 and cared for her parents and brother as well as making hot meals and soup for elderly neighbours, lived on her own in a small one-bedroom flat in Marske when she was taken seriously ill earlier in 2019.

She was found by a neighbour lying on her kitchen floor, where it was believed she had been for several days. Jean was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia, sepsis and a blood clot and was not expected to survive. To save her life, doctors amputated her left leg above the knee.

Following a stay in hospital Jean underwent rehabilitation and physiotherapy at a local care home.  Her flat was too small to accommodate a wheelchair and had no disabled access, meaning she would be a prisoner in her own home once she left the care facility.

Jean was nominated by social services to spend time in the respite apartment at Beyond Housing’s The Dunes in Redcar, which provides up to six weeks’ accommodation, care and support while a suitable home is found.

Jean loved life at The Dunes and was delighted when a permanent apartment became available after just three weeks.

Jean said: “I feel like I have a new lease of life and feel very safe and secure. I try to do most things for myself but it’s great knowing staff are on hand to help if I need it.”

If Jean hadn’t moved into The Dunes, she would have ended up in residential care which she believes would have had a negative impact on her health and wellbeing. She fears she would not have survived if she had returned to her old flat as she would have been sitting in a chair in her front room all day with no opportunity to leave or move around, with only carers visiting to help her each day.

Jean added: “Moving into supported housing has encouraged me to be a fighter and I know I won’t be defeated by losing my leg. I’m hoping to get a prosthetic limb in the very near future – with the care and support around me to keep my independence there will be no stopping me then!”

Charis Gracie, Supported Living Co-ordinator at The Dunes said: “Jean has settled in really well and is managing to get around with very little support.  She’s a great addition to our community here at The Dunes, it’s great to see her socialising rather than becoming isolated like she would have been had she stayed in her flat.”

The Dunes is an innovative development of 64 one-and two-bedroom extra care apartments to rent for those aged 55 and over, delivered in partnership between Beyond Housing and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. The site has extensive communal facilities, with on-site care and support available 24/7, 365 days a year.