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“We will be eternally grateful”

The family of a woman supported by Affinity Trust have thanked her support worker for saving their relative’s life, after she spent four nights by her hospital bedside.

Rhiannon, who has profound learning disabilities, is supported by Affinity Trust in Keighley, north of Bradford. Samantha, who joined Affinity Trust in 2019, is one of her support team.

On 31 March, when Samantha was supporting her, Rhiannon started showing symptoms of coronavirus. At the same time, another member of Rhiannon’s support team also developed symptoms.

In discussion with her manager Karen, Samantha decided that she and Rhiannon should isolate together for the next two weeks.

But, by the next day, Rhiannon had got much worse. Her team rang for an ambulance, and paramedics decided that Rhiannon should be taken to Airedale General Hospital. Karen says: “It took a lot of time and patience to successfully get Rhiannon into the ambulance, with great team work between us and the ambulance crew. They were fantastic.”

As Rhiannon does not communicate verbally, paramedics allowed Samantha to accompany her to hospital.

Treatment

The hospital also recognised Samantha’s essential role in supporting Rhiannon, and allowed Sam to remain with her while she was in hospital. They both stayed in a small room on a Covid 19 ward, with Sam sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

Rhiannon needed an oxygen mask to breathe, but became scared of it and resisted this at first. But Samantha showed her how to use the mask, and eventually coaxed her into wearing it.

Happily, Rhiannon responded to treatment. After four nights in hospital, she was discharged and returned home with Samantha. Samantha continued to isolate with her until two weeks had passed – and developed no symptoms herself.

Writing to Samantha, Rhiannon’s family said: “Thanks Sam for saving Rhiannon’s life. You are wonderful and we will be eternally grateful.”

Support manager Karen added: “I think what Sam did was amazing and above and beyond the call of duty.”

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