Libby’s presence and personality are unmatched. She is cheeky, strong minded and effervescent.
Shuffling through the box, Libby’s hand scouts for the next hot chip. Fumbling at times, Libby pulls a chip towards her mouth and pauses.
“Come on, Libby! You can do it,” Jose, her key support worker, said from across the table.
Her hand struggles to raise any higher, shaking as she tries to control her arm. She persists and succeeds, and she is quickly onto the next one.
“We planned on seeing Libby feed herself within six months. It’s only been three,” Amanda, the Home Services Manager at Beech, said.
“Libby is very smart!” Penny, her sister, said into Libby’s ear.
Penny is immediately met with Libby’s signature snicker.
A few years ago, Libby was often on her feet, whether it was making a cup of tea in the kitchen or getting ready to go shopping by grabbing her favourite black straw hat and a handbag from her beloved collection.
Following some health issues in 2016, Libby was immobile in much of her body and had difficulties speaking. She was initially bedridden for months until she could be moved around in her manual wheelchair.
Libby’s proprioception has been impaired. Proprioception is an awareness of the position and movement of one’s body. Coupled with being immobile for a long time, Libby has lost some physical strength, so she is relearning how to do things she naturally did before, like drinking from a cup by herself or bearing her own weight when standing.
“We planned on seeing Libby feed herself within six months. It’s only been three.”
The journey of building up Libby’s physical strength has been a long, ongoing process that has required persistence and resilience.
In the past six months, Libby has been able to experience more independence and enjoy more of her favourite activities.
Ever since Libby was a child, she’d always love to knit. It is something that came to her very naturally.
One of the things she’s made is a blue woolen blanket. She is not at a point where she can knit but she can hold onto the knitting needles and ball of wool securely, as she increases the strength, mobility and control in her hands.
It started with Libby turning herself in bed, and now one of Libby’s Quality of Life goals for 2020 is to weight bear.
“Libby has been achieving a lot in a short period of time, so we are setting goals that can keep up with her pace. Bearing her own weight—we think she can do it,” Amanda said. Jose smiled in agreement.
“I’ve been encouraging Libby to kick her legs. I started kicking my legs up and down and encouraged her to follow,” Jose explained.
Initially, Jose had to physically move her legs and Libby appeared uneasy. Now that Libby has been practicing every week for the last three months, sometimes in the morning she’ll do it on her own out of building this habit.
As Libby’s key worker, Jose sees Libby five times a week. Not only do they work together to improve Libby’s skills, but they also enjoy a good laugh together.
Placing Libby’s headset on her head, Jose says to her, “Can you hear me now?”
Jose and Libby suddenly let out a huge laugh together.
Besides Libby’s exuberant personality, what you will immediately notice is her strong support network—her sister, key worker, and Home Services Manager, who are continually by her side to support and laugh with her along her journey.