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The journey slows down

In 2004 Stephen went to live in a residential home run by New Prospects Association which is a private provider of quality care for people with learning disabilities and complex physical and health care needs in North Tyneside. Two other residents and Stephen lived there together happily. Sadly, they are both deceased and now in 2007, Stephen shares his home harmoniously with another gentleman.

 

Stephen was lucky to be given this opportunity. Support staff enjoy working with him and all agree he is a great character. We put together as much information as we could before he went: written, verbal and photographic, describing his likes and dislikes and behaviour patterns. His social worker put together a file detailing Stephen’s health problems and medical and legal requirements. These and frequent short visits gradually extending to longer stays made for a smooth transition so that Stephen settled in comfortably. Documents, scrap books and photograph albums recording Stephen’s life also went with him. Our house felt very empty without him. But we were well prepared and, although we  still miss him, he lives close enough for us to visit whenever we want to.

 

After Stephen left us we began to get used to the changes in our daily lives. Time was not our master any more. Flexibility replaced regular routine. The washing machine was used less often. I still enjoy the freedom from the daily chores of washing Stephen’s clothes and bedding, cleaning his wheelchair and armchair, challenging protocols, procedures and the people who enforced them, in a bid towards better understanding of Stephen’s need and right to do things his way. But although these are some of the things that made life difficult we still miss Stephen. We miss him for his personality, his sense of fun and mischievous ways and his actual presence. He could not verbalise his feelings and wants but his body language and expressive eyes told it all.

 

There are plenty of opportunities to be with him when his timetable allows and we spend time with him in his home or take him out according to his and our fitness and the state of the weather. Most imortantly though is that he has settled down well. His new carers have made some changes to his lifestyle. They are very patient with him and sensitive to his moods and requirements. One great improvement is his new motability vehicle which has rear access for him in his wheelchair.

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Retirement at last

It took time to get used to having time to ourselves after 42 years of  bringing up a family of five; and looking after three of them plus our elderly parents who each had special needs, behaviour problems and individual demands.

Stephen moved out in 2004 and we began to look forward to a more relaxed lifestyle. The first four weeks after he left were taken up with painting, papering and altering room furnishings which had been arranged to suit Stephen’s physical environmental requirements. Changes made were, demolishing the battered old fireguard, replacing old functional furniture and bringing precious ornaments out to display. (And at last I got the coffee table I’d always wanted). Then the garden needed attention. It had suffered some neglect throughout the weeks of transition preparations followed by a rapid spurt of spring growth while we were busy indoors.

 

RETIREMENT THREE YEARS ON

Gardening is now a pleasure not a chore. Improvements made in the spring of 2006 included laying a paved patio area. (Follow this link to see more pictures on my blog). Everything can be done at our own pace. We relish the freedom to make every day our own and to make each day count. Going for outings with Stephen is difficult now, but we have found that we get more benefit from sitting with him at home enjoying close contact and personal interaction. We are also better able to be sociable with his care staff. Life is good.

 

 

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Jack in garden before paving

Lynn in the garden after paving

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Page 7

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Stephen moves on to a new life with new people