Top honour for Penicuik carer

Janet Malcolm receives her runner up Carer of the Year Certificate. She is pictured wth Headways vice-president James Cracknell and Ericka Turner from SweetTree Home Care Services.
Janet Malcolm receives her runner up Carer of the Year Certificate. She is pictured wth Headways vice-president James Cracknell and Ericka Turner from SweetTree Home Care Services.

A Penicuik pensioner who became her husband’s 24-hour carer after a stroke left him with a life changing brain injury has narrowly missed out on a national award.

Janet Malcolm received a runners-up certificate at an annual awards ceremony organised by Headway, the brain injury association.
Janet was one of three people in the running for the title of Carer of the Year.

When Janet’s husband Andy suffered a stroke in 2014, the former fireman was left with many long-term health problems. He suffers from aphasia – a condition that affects the brain and leads to problems using language correctly. His right side is also paralysed and he struggles with post-stroke apathy – often leading to extremely low moods. He also acquired epilepsy and experiences tonic clonic seizures which make him anxious to go out of the house alone.

Janet spent numerous hours re-teaching her husband of 49 years how to use adapted kitchen utensils and he is now able to make himself drinks and a choice of simple meals. This gives him back the self worth involved in being independent that we all take for granted.

One of Andy’s biggest struggles is his speech and communication. Janet is often alone at home with him every day. She misses the free and easy camaraderie that was always present in their marriage. Where it would be easy for Janet to fall into a depression due to her loneliness, she has refused to let it affect her.

With the support of her local group Edinburgh Headway, she faces these daily struggles and adversities. She is infallible in her courage, caring nature and love for her husband.

She said: “There are still bits of my husband left from before the stroke and I just want to pull a few more bits back. We still have a life, we still love each other. It’s just a different life.

“I know it sounds obvious, but I just get on with it. I want to provide Andy with the best life possible and help him get as much of his independence back. It’s nice and very kind to be nominated. Edinburgh Headway has been so supportive. But I don’t do it for recognition or anything like that – I do it because I simply love my husband.”

Janet was nominated by Leigh Thornton, Rehabilitation Co-ordinator, at Edinburgh Headway.