Childhood sweethearts Dave Withers and his wife Belinda are sharing a bed once more thanks to a hi-tech solution and the determination of staff at Sirona care & health and South Gloucestershire Council.
Dave, 44, from Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, has suffered severe complications due to diabetes including a below-the-knee amputation of one leg. He also has secondary respiratory failure, sleep apnoea which means he needs a special machine to breathe at night and is on the waiting list for a guide dog due to deteriorating eyesight.
At 6ft 4ins, his remaining leg, which is also under threat from amputation, was affected by a footboard on the standard hospital bed which he needed and his 43-year-old wife was sleeping on a mattress on the floor.
Due to Dave’s health needs, funding was available to cover the cost of a hi-tech hospital style bed without a footer for him but that meant Belinda was still not able to be with her husband.
Sirona, a not-for-profit social enterprise providing specialist community health and social care across South Gloucestershire, has a charitable arm called the Sirona Foundation and each Christmas staff are able to nominate individuals who would benefit from funds.
Dominic Hardman, Sirona’s Assistant Locality Manager, who with Sharon Wilson, an occupational therapist with South Gloucestershire Council has been involved in Dave’s care, requested help for the couple. The Foundation’s Trustees were moved by the case presented by Dominic and could see how such a simple gesture could improve the quality of life for both Dave and Belinda. They had no hesitation in funding the difference to enable a double bed to be ordered.
Dave, a father-of-three – Alex, 20, Darcy, 15 and Dec, 14 – said: “I was so choked when I got the call to say that the Sirona Foundation was funding the bed; it is things like this which really make a big difference.
“I really could not be happier; I found it hard at just over 40 that we had to sleep in single beds and more recently Belinda was on a mattress on the floor – it wasn’t out of choice but from necessity. We can’t even sit on the sofa together as I have to have a special chair.
“Having the bed brought back how it should be for a couple; we’ve been married 24 years this year and together a couple of years before that.
“We were over the moon when the bed came, we were even able to choose the colour so it matched the bedroom; there’s not much room in there because of the lift to take me upstairs. Sirona staff have been stars; without people like those from Sirona and the NHS, I wouldn’t be here now.”
Foundation Trustee Dusty Walker said: “It is often the small things which we all take for granted that mean the most when they are taken away and we were delighted to be able to help the couple have together time again.”
Sirona Foundation worked with BaKare Beds which specialises in enabling people in need of care to live their life as independently as possible through the use of technology.
Alex Haste from BaKare Beds, who discounted the cost of the double bed to help the couple, said: “Our products have been designed in collaboration with therapists, carers, and of course users of specialist products.
“We listened to Sharon to find out exactly what was needed and the Bello Sonno Split Companion Bed was best suited to meet Mr Withers requirements. This model also allowed him to continue sleeping next to his wife whilst having his own fully functional side of the bed for care. We are incredibly pleased to have been able to play our part in helping Mr and Mrs Withers.”
Pictured Dave and Belinda with Sharon Wilson and Melanie Kendal, Community Rehabilitation Team Physiotherapist from Sirona.