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A Grandson's Triumph Over Schizophrenia

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A Grandson's Triumph Over Schizophrenia

Posted: 30.11.23

A grandmother hugging her grandson
A grandmother hugging her grandson

Maggie Foster and husband, John, have spent decades looking after their son, Graham, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. 'It hasn’t been easy', but at a time of life when they might expect to be at the receiving end of some TLC, they are now using their experience and skills to care for their grandchild and great-grandchild. Maggie says she went to multiple care homes to get the support, advice and help she needed but no luck.“I was looking around for helpful agencies at that point because there was nothing there and Graham had been in and out of various places having horrendous treatments.

Picture of Maggie and John

“There used to be a specialised mental health section which looked after carers who cared for people with mental health and that’s when I go involved with them and they came and visited me quite often to give me support and advice.

” Back in the 1980s mental health problems were dealt with very differently than they are now, and Maggie had to battle to get the best treatment for Graham.

“I got involved with the sub committees at Trafford Carers Centre which consisted of various members of different agencies, housing etc, looking at how we could improve the situation for carers looking after those with mental health problems. It was very good and extremely well attended,” she says.

“They were always lobbying for recognition for carers and what the carers needs were and what they required to carry on in their caring role.

This was the foundation for the carer’s assessment, and we did lobby for that for a long time. “The carer’s assessment is now the first thing that is done for a carer. It’s very important.”

Maggie was also one of only two or three carers on the Local Implementation Team (LIT team) which was a group consisting of various people, including consultants, housing and various agencies brought together to assess what the community needed to address the needs of people with mental health problems and those who care for them. Graham now lives in his own home, although he has support to ensure that he takes his medication, but that wasn’t the end of caring for Maggie and John. Because of difficulties in the family their grandchild Stephanie came to live with them and unfortunately developed a range of debilitating conditions.

“My granddaughter Stephanie developed rheumatoid arthritis and arthritis colitis and came to live with us,” explains Maggie.

“We also look after her son, our great-grandson Harry, who is 10-years-old.

“We’ve taken over the role of carers with Stephanie who is quite severely ill. She was on various drugs which alleviated the pain a bit, but her immune system was so low it leaps about her body. There’s no way she can work.

“She also has a brain tumour but that seems to be dormant at the moment. It is a complex situation.”

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