Diane Benali - Information and Support Worker
previously worked as an IT manager before joining us in 2009 as an
information and support worker for
Redbridge, Newham, Havering, Barking and Dagenham.
Here, Diane shares some of her experiences.
Image right: Diane making a home visit
Dealing with local services
"One of my first home visits was to a woman with Parkinson's who was unable to use her bath
on her own.
"She applied for a shower adaptation 5 years earlier and the
local council turned down the application, only approving a bath
"I arranged for an assessment from an occupational
therapist and submitted a supporting letter to the review
"Finally, after many phone calls and emails to the local
council, they approved the application for the shower
conversion and now the lady can stay in her home.
I meet with local health workers so people with Parkinson's in the area know about our service.
"On an average day I visit 2 people in their homes.
"Parkinson’s can make some people introverted, but I encourage
the people I see to get out as much as they can.
"We can provide information about services that help
people get back into the community, such as local clubs and
“I also attend Parkinson's clinics working alongside the
Parkinson's nurses and
"When I first started, I talked to an occupational therapists'
group at Newham Hospital and set up appointments with all the
people with Parkinson's passing through the hospital.
Difficulties diagnosing Parkinson's
We can't advise on Parkinson's drugs, but we can make sure that people have access to the information they need.
"I was at a local function and and a gentleman approached me and
said he suspected he may have Parkinson's.
"After introducing myself and talking to him about my work I
asked if he had been referred to a specialist.
"It turned out that he hadn't been diagnosed and that his GP
hadn't considered Parkinson's as a possible diagnosis.
"I visited his doctor and requested a referral to a neurologist
and Parkinson's nurse.
"After living with Parkinson's for over 4 years he
was correctly diagnosed and prescribed medication to help
manage his symptoms.
Help with benefit claims
"We help everyone we see get all the benefits and financial
support they are entitled to claim and provide help with forms and
"A lot of people I see have problems with their blood
circulation, feel cold and need to keep their homes warm. Not many
people are aware they can claim for help with the cost of heating
"Energy providers have to offer social tariffs to help their
most vulnerable customers cope with the high costs of gas and
electricity. Some tariffs can cut bills by 15%, but the rate may
vary between power suppliers.
"The application process may seem complicated. We can make
sure people are aware of offers in their area and we can help
Emotional support for carers and partners
We are here for carers and families too.
"I probably get just as many calls from partners and carers as
from people with Parkinson's.
"They're not all emergency calls, or even about Parkinson's
itself. Often they just need a chat, to talk to someone who
understands the condition and how it can affect things."
Help us improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's
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