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Oakworth father's tributes to ‘care team’
An Oakworth father has paid a Christmas tribute to the “fantastic” district nurses who help him care for his severely disabled son and dementia-stricken wife.
John Whitaker’s son, Stewart, was mown down by a drunk driver in London 14 years ago, and has needed intensive, round-the-clock care ever since.
For years, 74-year-old John Whitaker and his wife, June, 68, received help to look after Stewart in their own home by visiting nurses based at Kilmeny Surgery in Keighley.
But two-and-a-half years ago, Mrs Whitaker was diagnosed with dementia. Her husband now needs the nurses’ assistance to look after her as well as their son.
He said he does not want either June or Stewart to have to go into a home, but said the ongoing care they both require to stay at home would be impossible without the district nurses’ dedication.
“There have been times when the nurses have been coming here every other day, when things have got critical,” he said. “If it’s not one problem developing it’s something else.
“It’s not a situation that’s getting better, and it is emotionally exhausting. But we have to carry on.
“The nurses are so busy. They’re rushed off their feet, but they still do the best they can. They need to feel appreciated for what they do.”
Mr Whitaker said Stewart was badly injured when he was 29 while working in London as a site manager. He spent ten months in hospital and is now confined to a bed at home, unable to walk or speak.
Mr Whitaker, who used to run his own electronics and rental business, said this tragedy was compounded when his wife developed severe dementia.
“The district nurses from Kilmeny have been outstanding, and they deserve to be recognised,” he said. “They’ve been exceptionally caring.
“There’s a lot of bad news about the NHS, and it may be bad in places, but the nurses here have been so good to us.”
He said despite his injuries Stewart, who is now 43, still has the “spirit to exist”. He added it was much better for his son to be at home rather than in a hospital.
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