Elderly lady with red hair and a wise gaze in a park setting.
Ann has been with Independent Lives since June 2022. She spoke to us about the impact Direct Payments have had on her life. Ann was diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

“I had a large cancer in my right lung. I was put on chemotherapy to try and shrink it because doctors were concerned that it had attached itself to an artery in my chest.

I was given the choice between an operation that surgeons weren’t entirely sure I’d make it through, or six months to live.

I chose the operation and now six years later, I’m in remission.”

However, shortly after her operation, Ann had a pulmonary embolism and kidney stones and was re-hospitalised.

“During this second hospital stay I had various scans. Doctors discovered I have a duplex kidney, which is what was causing the kidney stones.”

The kidney stones become so large that Ann had to have another operation to remove them. This led to haemorrhaging, and she became seriously unwell.

“Around this time is when I started to have carers. And when they would try to get me out of bed, I would pass out. Even lying in bed my pulse rate was 120, and when I would stand it would climb, 130, 140, 150…

I went back to the hospital and saw a specialist and various consultants who thought I might have a brain tumour. I had a brain scan and that showed damage to blood vessels in my brain.

There’s also a growth in my liver and a question mark over whether I have Parkinson’s disease.”

Ann’s health issues were complicated further by financial difficulties.

“We’re lucky enough to have a relatively healthy fixed income but we have no savings, because they were all stolen from us.

This meant that we were paying out hundreds of pounds every week on carers, which took a big chunk of our monthly income and meant that we were going into our overdraft every month.

We would find out that we were running out of money two weeks before we got our pensions come through. Things would get so desperate in the last week of the month that we would need to rely on food parcels because we couldn’t afford to buy food.

I eventually reached a point where I couldn’t go on anymore and some days it felt like I didn’t know whether I was living or dying, and I just remember thinking ‘somebody’s got to help.”

Ann reached out to social services and after a care assessment, she was put in touch with Independent Lives, and she received her first Direct Payment in June 2022.

“After my assessment I now receive 16 hours of care a week. It comes to about £230 pounds a week. It might not seem a lot, but it’s changed so much.

It changed my life from not knowing from one second to the next how we were going to eat or pay our bills to being able to manage every month.

I’m not going to say it’s not still a struggle sometimes, but it has helped us so much. It’s taken a huge worry from my mind. It’s been a miracle.”

As a result of the support Ann has received, her mental health has improved and she’s looking toward the future.

“Everyone has been so kind. They spoke to me in gentle, kind ways. Everyone has understood my situation and my mental state. That mental state has now left me. I just need to deal with the physical aspects of my condition. But the mental trauma has gone, thanks to Independent Lives.

Mentally now I can manage. Before it was a nightmare. I hated waking up for what I’d have to face. Independent Lives have taken that nightmare away and enabled me to live a quality of life that I never thought I’d have.”

Independent Lives provides a range of services and support for people receiving Direct Payments. Click here to find out more about our Direct Payment support services.