Donald Johnston, a Community Safety Advocate for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service visited Harcombe House in Devon to receive help for a problematic knee that affected his everyday life.

Before becoming a Community Safety Advocate, Donald was working for the hydrant department inspecting fire hydrants, however due to his inability to kneel and get up safely he had to look for another job within the fire service.

Donald’s condition also affected his home life and prevented him from doing his hobbies. He explains: “I do a lot of things outside like sheepdog trials and I had to be very careful when I was walking over uneven ground because I did get a lot of pain through my knee. The injury affected my sleep as well as I was waking up during the night as every time I turned over I got a pain in my knee.”

Following positive discussions with colleagues who had used the services previously, Donald decided to contact the Charity for support, which led to him taking part in the health and well-being programme.

“I was apprehensive when I first came. In the back of your mind you wonder if you’re going to be able to do this. When I first looked at the week’s programme it looked quite daunting but as you go through all the exercises and treatments, you feel good when you complete them. The team is very sympathetic if you can’t do an exercise and they help you to eventually get there.”

“Everyone’s in the same boat, we have many have different injuries but everyone’s working together to help each other.”

Donald Johnston

Donald’s aim for the week was to achieve more mobility and stability in his knee by strengthening the muscle around it. He also wanted to improve his balance and get up and down stairs without feeling any pain, which he managed to achieve.

“I’m more mobile now.  The most beneficial thing for me was doing the gym work and balancing techniques. Being able to stand on one leg without falling over was quite an achievement.

“You always worry with an injury that you can’t do some things but it’s helped me think well I can do it and as long as I keep it up, I’m going to get better.”

Donald also enjoyed meeting and spending time with the other beneficiaries taking part in the programme: “You’ve got all the other people around you doing the same thing, you get together and help each other. It’s quite a good feeling because you’re not on your own. Everyone’s in the same boat, we have many have different injuries but everyone’s working together to help each other.”

Reflecting on his stay at Harcombe House, Donald said: “It’s been well worth coming all this way for the treatment. I think the service has been excellent. The physiotherapists listen to everybody and help you get around any problems as much as they can.

“It’s great to finish the week and have a big outcome at the end of it that’s not just physical, inside I feel a lot better for it as well. I’ve achieved something this week.”