David & Elaine's story:

Accepting help during a vulnerable time

David & Elaine
Elaine is 80 and lives with her husband, David, who is 75.

Elaine suffered a stroke and is being supported at home by David, who himself is undergoing chemotherapy for blood cancer. The stroke left Elaine very weak down her left-side, and having also previously broken her wrist, she struggled to manage with day-to-day tasks.

Having given up their car due to their illnesses, Elaine and David have had to struggle to and from their various hospital appointments on public transport. “We’ve relied heavily on buses and taxis for our hospital treatments,” Elaine explains. “But often, you can’t get one – especially around school times – and then we’re stuck!”.

While running an errand to the local post office, Elaine lost her footing and fell hard against the pavement. She was in a great deal of pain and couldn’t stand up, and David – who was accompanying her – was unable to help. People began to gather and someone called for an ambulance, with the operator advising them that Elaine shouldn’t be moved – despite the freezing weather.

Fortunately, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers were on their way to meet another client and happened to notice the crowd in the street. They immediately stopped to offer their assistance.

Elaine had hurt her shoulder badly during the fall, and with the ambulance unable to attend for at least two hours, the volunteers set about making her as comfortable as possible. Elaine had fallen near a gym, so one of the volunteers went in and asked to borrow a pillow and some towels so that they could cover her up and keep her warm. They then stayed with Elaine and David until the ambulance arrived. “The two ladies from Royal Voluntary Service came over – they were so nice,” says Elaine. “They put us both at ease and did everything they could to help.”

When the ambulance finally arrived, Elaine was taken to hospital. Unfortunately, David wasn’t able to accompany her. He explains: “The ladies from Royal Voluntary Service took me home to get Elaine’s things and then to the hospital. I would have struggled to get there without them. They took all my worries away on that awful day.”


“Royal Voluntary Service support us so well. They take all the strain and worry from us during such a difficult time in our lives.”

After the initial assessment, the hospital staff discovered that Elaine had broken and dislocated her shoulder, and it became clear that, when she was discharged, the couple would struggle to cope. Thankfully, they referred the couple back to Royal Voluntary Service for some ongoing support once back at home.

“The fall and damage to my shoulder has really affected my hand too. I find it very difficult to do a lot of things that you take for granted,” explains Elaine. “Luckily, the ladies from Royal Voluntary Service came to see me at home after I was discharged to offer their help going forward.”

Royal Voluntary Service went on to support the couple with a variety of tasks, including providing safe and reliable transport to and from their hospital appointments, and doing the food shopping when needed. “They take me to my physio appointments, and they take David to his chemotherapy,” says Elaine. “They ring us up each week to check in on us and ask us how we’re doing. They ask if we need anything and where we need to go and when. They’re a godsend. They’ve never let us down.”

Elaine and David were both very nervous about attending their appointments initially, but having the support of Royal Voluntary Service has changed all that.

“They’ve given me so much more confidence,” says Elaine. “I was really nervous about going for my treatment, but they pick us up, take us there, and even sit with us to keep us company while we wait. They’ve taken a lot of pressure off us, and it’s made such a huge difference to our lives. I can’t thank or praise them enough.”

Reflecting on the support Royal Voluntary Service has given the couple since Elaine’s fall, David is so relieved to have them in their lives. “Health wise, we’ve both been in a bad state for quite some time, but we’ve always struggled on as we don’t like to bother anyone,” explains David. “It’s been such a relief having Royal Voluntary Service to rely on. They’ve taken all the strain off us, and we have far less to worry about. It’s a real comfort to know that there’s someone there to help.”

Elaine adds: “It’s really cheered us both up. It’s restored our faith in human nature! Everyone at Royal Voluntary Service is so nice – we think of them as friends now, even though we’ve not known them for long.”

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