adam LIFE Case Study – Lisa Welsh From Harborne


Lisa Welsh has been working with the tech team at adam on the creation of the adam LIFE home care technology – her feedback has been taken into account in the development of the site, so that it suits the specific needs of those needing home care in Birmingham.

Birmingham resident Lisa Welsh was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) at the age of four. CMT is an incurable and progressive condition that causes muscle weakness in the lower legs and hands. Now 54, Lisa relies on care agencies and personal assistants to enable her to live her life to the full and carry out her work as a trustee for a national disability organisation and board member of a local housing association.

A considerable chunk of Lisa’s time every week is taken up in managing the people who provide her care. 'I call them my team' says Lisa...

“I employ an agency in the morning for an hour and the personal assistants take over from then. There are advantages and disadvantages of using an agency as you can imagine. The main advantage is that if someone phones in sick, they’ll always send somebody. I have had a series of good agencies and not so good agencies. It’s about whether they communicate with me and whether they listen, how they organise their workers and when they send them.”

With considerable experience of managing her own care package over several years, Lisa has a few simple but clear guidelines for the sort of care she needs and expects from an agency. “I’m the manager. Rule number 1 make sure Lisa is happy at all times. If you cross me you’ll soon know about it. If I ask for a seven o’clock call I mean a seven o’clock call. I don’t mean half past eight. I try to be organised I like to know who’s coming at what time.”

For Lisa, it’s important that care agencies understand her as an individual. ‘I’m not a delivery slot. I’m a person.’

Fortunately Lisa has her care well under control. ‘I’ve got about seven different workers and they’ve all got different skills and talents. It’s like a juggling act all of the time. It’s a case of “What do I want to do today? Who shall I have with me to do it?” So one of them came with me today because we were picking up a new wheelchair and she would be the one dealing with my chair on a regular basis. There’s another one who’s good at coming shopping with me.’

At the age of 22, Lisa took part in the 1984 International Games for the Disabled in New York, winning a bronze medal in the 25 metres backstroke swimming event and a gold medal in the club throw field event.

Most weeks, Lisa tries to fit in a trip to her local swimming pool in Harborne and it is important that her carers can help with that. “It’s no good taking a PA person that can’t swim,” she says.

When she arranged her first care packages Lisa was not aware of any systems or services to help her compare and choose care agencies. “I was quite fortunate with the first agency I picked. I tried a cheaper option and it didn’t work so I went back to the first one. It’s all about performance and standards.’

Lisa has been part of a group of care users who have helped to develop a new online service designed to help people get the personal care they need.

The new platform called “adam LIFE” will allow care users to advertise their specific personal care requirements and enable a wide range of care providers to bid for the work.

Lisa is looking forward to seeing the new service in action when it is launched in Birmingham in November of this year.

‘With adam LIFE up and running it’ll give you the one stop place where to look for things,’ says Lisa. ‘Everything will be under that one portal.’

Recruiting carers has at times been a little bit hit and miss in the past for Lisa. ‘I interviewed someone once and asked them to explain what personal care they had done in the past and she went, “I put my gran’s coat on and off,” and I replied, “That’s not the level of personal care that I’ll be expecting you to do.” She didn’t go any further in that interview process.’

‘I’m quite used to doing my own care planning,’ says Lisa, ‘I know there are support agencies out there that can help. I kind of just did it. It enables me to live my life my way and do what I want when I want.’

Lisa’s advice for anyone arranging their own care is that they have to be very canny in the way that fill in all the forms to secure funding and support. ‘The key thing to realise is that when they are doing their assessments, you have to tick all their little boxes to meet their criteria and sometime you don’t fit all their boxes because no two people are the same. You have to find ways to get round all the rules and regulations and the policies and procedures to enable you to make it work.’

‘They want everything so detailed and time limited. But that’s not how life works. One day you might do things quicker than another and you’ve got to have some flexibility. What day do you go shopping? Well it depends whether I’ve got food in the cupboard or not. Everybody else has flexible lives so why shouldn’t I?’

If you would like to find out more, why not visit the adam LIFE site?