A new service is helping a former firefighter recover from multiple illnesses

Stuart Bradley, a retired firefighter and professional rugby player, now has multiple health issues and struggles to get out of his flat but a new health service is helping him get back on his feet. Stuart is pictured with wellbeing support worker Lee Jones
Stuart Bradley, a retired firefighter and professional rugby player, now has multiple health issues and struggles to get out of his flat but a new health service is helping him get back on his feet. Stuart is pictured with wellbeing support worker Lee Jones
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Once a firefighter and a professional rugby player, Stuart Bradley now has multiple health issues and struggles to get out of his flat.AASMA DAY finds out how a new service is helping him get back on his feet.

As he struggles to get stand for more than a few minutes at a time, Stuart Bradley ruefully thinks how it is hard to imagine he was once a fit and healthy firefighter and played professional rugby.

The goals are just simple things, but things that have become incredibly different in recent years

Stuart, 64, who lives in Freckleton, suffers from heart problems, diabetes, kidney failure and mobility issues due to severe arthritis and gout.

Stuart, who lives with his partner of three years Beryl Kay, was having to pay regular visits to his GP because of all his health complaints and was finding it difficult to even get about his own flat.

However, Stuart is now turning his life around with the help of a dedicated team of health professionals and social and wellbeing officers thanks to the new Extensive Care Service in Lytham.

Stuart, who once played professional rugby with Halifax, Dewsbury and Batley, was forced to relocate from his caravan to sheltered accommodation following a fall last Christmas.

Stuart explains: “When things went wrong I was taken to hospital. I was already going to see the doctor on a regular basis.”

Stuart, of Naze Lane, was referred to the Extensive Care Service which has been launched by NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) by his GP.

It is initially being launched in Lytham but with plans for roll-out right across the Fylde Coast.

Stuart says: “I went to see my GP when I came out of hospital after suffering kidney failure.

“She described this service and explained how it was working.

“She told me one of the main objectives was to keep people out of hospital as much as they could and that was exactly what I wanted as I hate being in hospital.

“She asked if I would like to go on it and I accepted it there and then.”

Extensive Care provides patients with multiple long-term conditions with a single point of contact for all their health needs.

Based within Lytham Primary Care Centre, the Extensive Care Service consists of doctors, nurses, advanced practitioners and care co-ordinators all under one roof.

Patients also have their own wellbeing support worker, who they meet on a regular basis, developing a long-term plan for their health.

Having been referred and undergone an initial assessment of his conditions, Stuart was assigned to wellbeing support worker Lee Jones who meets regularly with the couple to discuss Stuart’s needs and concerns.

Lee, who looks after 17 patients across the Lytham, St Annes, Ansdell and Freckleton area, has provided Stuart with information sheets explaining what he should do in any of the health emergencies that could occur and has also helped him devise a set of goals to work towards.

Stuart, who used to spend every day at the gym keeping fit, says: “The goals are just simple things, but things that have become incredibly different in recent years.

“They are things like doing more DIY, cooking and doing more exercise.

“I had wanted to paint the hallway but was unable to as my legs start to hurt and I have to sit down every few minutes, so Lee got me a perching stool which has meant I have been able to make a start on the job.

“The stool has also helped me do some cooking.

“I also wanted to start swimming so I could do a bit of exercise, but I can’t manage the ladders to get into and out of the pool, but Lee found me a swimming pool with a walk-in area so I was able to get into that.

“These are little things to many people but it makes a massive difference to me and makes me feel a lot happier while also helping get me up on my feet.”

Stuart says he would recommend the Extensive Care Service to anyone who meets the referral criteria as it is helping him change his life for the better.

Stuart says: “I see Lee every week which is really good as we have built up a rapport and we get to talk about things that could help me to feel better.

Incredible

“And the speed of the service is incredible. I know if anything goes wrong I can ring a number 24/7 and someone will help me.

“I went in for an appointment and while I was there I asked about a rash that had developed on my arm and someone came and saw me there and then.

“There was no waiting around or needing to book a new appointment.

“I am not waiting a month to see a doctor any more. It is instant and for me and Beryl, that provides huge security as I know in that place there is someone there if I need them.”

Lee, who has a background in sports coaching and patient care, says he is seeing a huge change in the wellbeing of the patients he is supporting.

He says: “This service is fantastic as myself and the other wellbeing support workers are able to get right to the very root of the problem and get it sorted.

“In a 10 minute appointment with a doctor, all they can do is diagnose a health complaint and arrange treatment, but through developing a relationship with Stuart I have been able to look at more preventative measures so, in the main, he is able to look after his conditions and avoid the need for emergency treatment.”