Josie, from Bristol, was a nurse until 2008, when she developed a number of impairments which affect her health and mobility.
She has most recently been diagnosed with mast cell activation, a condition which affects immunity and increases the chances of anaphylaxis attacks.
In 2008, I was well and working as a nurse. Then I got ill, and just didn’t get better. I was eventually diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a neurological condition which causes pain all over the body.
I then suddenly developed idiopathic anaphylaxis – life-threatening allergic reactions caused by a range of things, from heat to pollen and perfume. It means I need to have a support worker with me when I go somewhere new in case I have a reaction.
My other health problems mean my mobility is limited, and I’m often ill in bed for several days at a time.
I recently got an electric wheelchair, which has been amazing and has given me some of my freedom back. I have two children who live with their dad, whom I see regularly. But I still do not have the support I need to live a full life.
Some days I barely get to speak to anyone
At the moment, I get three short visits a day from a care worker to cook my meals, help me shower, and keep the house clean. I get two hours every two weeks “social” time which at best on a good day gets me over the park and back .
It’s not long enough to join in any activities but I value this time hugely as it’s uninterrupted time with actual real conversation, not just “what do you need to eat?” or similar.
My basic needs are met – I’m clean and I’m fed. But I haven’t got enough support to actually get me out of the house. It means that some days I barely get to speak to anyone, let alone have a social life.
If I get an infection and have to ask my carer to pick up a prescription, I don’t get to have a shower that day. There just isn’t enough time.
What the right support would enable me to do
A little more support – for example, a support worker to go with me to new places – would give me so much more opportunity to take part in life, but at the moment that feels like an impossible utopia!
People like me, who were professionals and could make a contribution with the right support, are being cut out of the workforce.
Working in an office or a hospital isn’t really possible for me, but I still have skills and experience that I would like to use, if I had the means of doing so.
Everyday equality by 2022
In the end, it is a question of equality. In a fair world, I would have the support I need to live my life, and the opportunity to fulfil my capabilities.
I’d be able to go out and have a social life. I’d have support to do some work, maybe based at home where I would be able to control my surroundings. Instead I don’t feel like I’m living, just existing.
Tell us what living independently means to you
What does living independently mean to you? What would getting the right support from social care enable you to do? Email the stories team and tell us your experience – email@example.com
You can also join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #EverydayEquality.