Case study – Shirley (70 years old)

Shirley’s foot was amputated due to poorly controlled diabetes. She is largely bedridden, and frequently gets pressure sores. 

shirleyShirley is a 70 year old female who was admitted to hospital for an acute chest infection. She was admitted to hospital the previous winter with influenza, though she stayed in hospital some weeks due to infected pressure sores. Shirley told clinical staff she often stayed in bed to keep warm. She does not have a great deal of mobility, having lost her left foot due to poorly-controlled diabetes. As Shirley is medically dependent on electricity to run the home dialysis machine, the family will frequently limit the use of heating appliances in winter, to ensure that they are able to cover the electricity bills.

Shirley's story
'This house is so cold in winter – sometimes it feels like the sun doesn’t even come through the windows in some rooms, they are so dark and damp. I don’t remember houses being so cold – but then maybe it was because I was younger, and healthier. Now that I am getting older, it’s easier to stay in bed all day, and at least keep a bit warmer. Last winter, I had to go to hospital for the ‘flu, and they found that some pressure sores had become infected, which meant I had to be in hospital for longer. I missed my grandchildren.

I didn’t go to the doctor for a long time, and then I found out I had diabetes. I was ashamed and missed a lot of appointments. In the end I had my left foot amputated – my diabetes was very bad and the blood wasn’t getting to my foot. I have crutches to get around on but I need my children or grandchildren to help me. I have a dialysis machine at home now, so I don’t have to go to the hospital as much as I used to, but I need the electricity to stay on. With everything so expensive these days the power bill can be a shock. We try to put a little money away each week especially for the power bill. Two of my grandchildren have asthma, and the littlest one always gets poorly with colds, so I tell them to keep the heater on.  

The doctor I see for my diabetes suggested I get vaccinated for the flu this year – I don’t want to have to be in hospital again.'
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