Marlita welcomes visitors with a firm handshake and a warm smile. She enjoys being with people and sharing stories. She is an open-hearted person who sees the best in others and wants to help where she sees a need. Faith and love are the anchors that ground Marlita’s life. Faith and love were also part of her transformation.
Angela Poulton manages the home where Marlita came to live in 2020. At the time, Angela was not sure how long Marlita would be with Communitas because her health was so poor. They first met in 2017 when Marlita was still in hospital. Angela remembers that visit very well.
“She was unresponsive, couldn’t walk or talk, wouldn’t eat or drink. She was essentially in a catatonic state,” Angela remembers.
When Marlita came to Communitas 3 years later, nothing had changed. Seeking to find as much support for Marlita as possible, Angela began to learn more about schizophrenia, the illness with which Marlita was diagnosed.
“The challenge was that Marlita appeared to be the opposite of all that I was learning about. It was very complicated,” she says.
Together with Marlita’s doctor, they adjusted her medication and then Angela and her staff team did what they do best: they gave Marlita the loving care she needed. Staff spent one-on-one time with her every day, patiently providing physical, emotional, and spiritual care. They learned that faith had been very important to Marlita and so they spent time praying and reading the Bible to her. Over time, Marlita began to respond and eventually she was transformed into the vibrant person she is today.
“She is unrecognizable from the woman who first came to us,” Angela says. “It is such a joy to have her in our home. She is healthy, happy, and helpful.”
Marlita loves her home and is effusive with her praise and gratitude.
“The staff take such good care of me,” she says. “They make really good meals. I love having my own bedroom. My family are happy that I am here. I am too.”
Family is very important to Marlita. She spends time regularly with her cousins, having coffee and chatting.
“We visit and share stories and tell each other how much we love each other,” she says.
I love my family. They mean the world to me. – Marlita
Marlita’s progress is also marked by her mobility. When she first came to the home, an electric ceiling lift was needed to help her in and out of bed. Another lift was ordered specifically for Marlita but by the time it arrived, she was walking on her own. Angela says the lift is still sitting in its box and has never been used. Marlita also had a custom-built wheelchair but she no longer uses it. Staff worked with her to teach her how to stand and walk again.
“Once she knew how to use her legs and feet again, she took off!” Angela says. “Now she goes for 1 or 2 hour walks with staff.”
Marlita loves to help others. She regularly makes tea for Angela and goes to get the mail. She does her own laundry and helps staff with the other laundry that needs doing. Helping with chores around the house is one way that Marlita contributes to life in the home.
“I’m a loving and kind person,” she says. “I love to help others and be considerate of others.”
Faith continues to sustain Marlita. Where once staff read the Bible to her, she now reads it on her own and often reads to staff. She spends time in prayer and is so happy that she can go to church in person again.
The transformation in Marlita’s life is amazing but she takes it all in stride, acknowledging God and the people around her for the health and strength she has today.
“I am so thankful for all that people do for me in my life,” she says.