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Luke Caines: family support existing quality of care

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Luke Caines with sisters Carla Franklin, left, Stacey Robinson and Robin Butterfield (Photograph supplied)

Moves to raise funds for a heavily disabled hospital patient have taken his family by surprise, with relatives saying that their care and the work of hospital staff is already adequate to keep him happy and comfortable.

The sister of Luke Caines, 62, also said his unusual medical condition highlighted Bermuda’s lack of a dedicated facility outside the hospital to look after the island’s disabled requiring permanent care.

Carla Franklin, now living in Britain, said devoted loved ones in Bermuda had been looking after her bedridden brother with visits, excursions and his favourite meals.

The family said they were taken aback to learn that Carol Everson had stepped in to create a bank account dedicated to what Ms Everson said were Mr Caines’s increasing care needs.

Ms Franklin insisted that the family had his quality of life under control.

“The main point of this is letting people know that we are here for our brother and we are not at this time raising funds,” she added.

“Luke is fine right now and he is happy.”

Robin Butterfield, left, and Stacey Robinson join their brother, Luke Caines, for a birthday outing (Photograph supplied)

Ms Franklin, who was compelled for financial reasons to make the tough decision to move to England more than a year ago, maintains a tight bond with her brother through technology such as WhatsApp, and has left his care to family back home.

“We can’t be down there all the time, but we do our best for him. He has a lot of family members that go and visit him.”

Outings, trips to family homes for holidays, home-cooked food and visits are how Mr Caines’s relatives keep him engaged, while staff take him on jaunts to the Botanical Gardens next door to the hospital.

Ms Franklin said her brother, who has severe cerebral palsy, had been able to take trips overseas in his earlier years.

“Luke is becoming a senior now and getting tired. Sometimes he doesn’t want to get out of bed. But when family come around he is ready to rock and roll.”

Ms Franklin said she felt that Mr Caines was “in a loophole” because the severity of his disability had left him in a grey area for medical care.

“If there’s any change that needs to be done, it is not in aid of my brother,” she said.

“It should be in aid of all disabled children coming up after him who are in the same situation. There is nowhere for them to be.

“I have a good friend with a son who is fully dependent. She can’t put him anywhere; there is nowhere in Bermuda. We need to have a facility for dependent disabled people.”

Ms Everson, a case worker for the Bermuda Legion, told The Royal Gazette that her efforts were undertaken separately from her charity in an effort to improve life for Mr Caines, whom she knows from charitable visits to the hospital.

She said she had been unable to contact next of kin.

The family responded that Mr Caines’s medical care was being well met by staff at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, where he has lived for 48 years.

“It’s not for her to do,” Ms Franklin said. “When it comes to Luke needing assistance, he lives in the hospital, where they care for him, and they contact us as family. It’s not like we are not in his life.”

She added: “My brother understands. He knows I spent my whole life right next to him.”

Relatives tending to Mr Caines include Ms Franklin’s son, Carliss Franklin, who handles transportation, and Mr Caines’s niece, Shirley Ible, who said her uncle “means the world to me”.

Ms Ible said of the fundraiser: “We have all agreed we do not wish for this to continue, because of how it came about.

“Carliss and I will take him for a drive, normally up to my mother’s house so he can see his sister. On a holiday we all get together and eat. He loves music.”

She added: “We have not abandoned him.”

Mr Caines was moved from his own hospital room to the new acute care wing in 2014, and at present shares accommodation on the Perry Ward with another patient.

Hospital staff keep the family in touch through video calls, Ms Ible said.

Mr Franklin said: “When I was young, my mother always made sure that he was in my life. From then until now.

“I have even been the one that lifts him in and out of his wheelchair when it’s time to go out, whether he has travelled or goes out for a holiday.

“Luke has plenty of family that come and see him and that go places with him. There’s never been one time he didn’t have that. I visited him the other day.”

He said Mr Caines’s greatest difficulty had been the isolation imposed on hospital patients by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He was upset because he wanted to come out for my birthday,” Mr Franklin recalled.

“He likes to step out now and then, when he gets to see all the faces and people he knows.”

But Mr Caines was able to meet his family even during heavy Covid-19 restrictions.

Staff and relatives organised a drive-by of the hospital on his 60th birthday to celebrate the event, complete with social distancing.