Case study - how equipment helped Wing Commander Thomas Francis 'Ginger' Neil

Wing Commander Thomas Francis 'Ginger' Neil

Battle of Britain pilot Tom chooses a turning bed to future-proof his independence and ability to stay at home

Condition: Reduced mobility
Solution: 4ft 6in turning bed

Tom Neil is a highly respected veteran of WW2 and completed 141 combat missions for the RAF during the Battle of Britain. He is the last surviving 'Ace' from this historic engagement and has published several books recalling his experiences flying Hurricanes and Spitfires between 1938-1964. Tom has multiple awards for bravery, held the position of Chairman of the Fighter Pilot's Association and was a key figure in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Britain.

Now approaching the age of 97 Tom still retains his determined yet gentlemanly persona - along with a desire to remain independent at home for as long as possible. Tom does not want full or part-time professional carers just yet and only has assistance from his sons a few days per week.

Tom wants to remain as active as possible on his own terms so chooses to use assistive equipment. Getting in and out of bed without assistance was becoming more of a challenge as was achieving a comfortable position at night. Tom spent a few years discussing possible solutions with his late wife until he decided upon ownership of an electrically powered bed.

The electrically operated rotational, height adjustable and profiling bed has future-proofed Tom's independence at home.

The ergonomic rotating bed also includes a vertical seat lift for safe and controlled sit-to-stand transfers which Tom has been able to benefit greatly from.

Tom explains: 'I had considered an assistive bed for sometime but did not want a piece of apparatus that looked like a hospital bed. This is my 38th home after being stationed all round the world and I want it to remain the same. I saw the bed in an advert and was impressed with its abilities - key to my decision was that it was practical, easily controllable and looked like a domestic bed.'

Tom has the extra support he needs to access his bed safely and on his own terms. He currently does not need to use all of the bed's functionality but feels it is essential for the future.

Tom continues: 'My new bed is as comfy as a Spitfire. When you are very old you need to move around and readjust yourself regularly to remain comfortable. The movement of my bed helps me adjust my position without difficultly day or night, this is the joy of the bed.'

Patrick Neil, Tom's son added: 'We are continuing to help Dad remain as active as possible as we know his independence is important to him. We are avoiding as much full-time care assistance as possible for now. Its lying to seated powered action has greatly improved Dad's sleeping arrangements and is a major factor in keeping him at home for as long as possible. As a family, we love being here together in our final family home which Dad built nearly 40 years ago. We don't want that to change for anything - this bed has made that possible'.

Patrick adds: 'When you introduce full time carers you quickly become dependent upon them and your capacity to function can deteriorate quickly. This is why we continue to challenge Dad with tasks that are fair and achievable.'

Tom concludes: 'My son took my car away so I cannot drive anymore which I was not happy about but is probably best. At least I can still move around the house and get in and out of bed on my own. The bed supplier's assessors and installers were impeccable and reassured me. At last I can sleep better at night.'

Case study supplied by Theraposture

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