I recently went out to celebrate Christmas with my brother and his amazing support team. He moved into his own flat with 24/7 support just a year ago, and the changes in him are remarkable.
As a boy, he was affectionately known as ‘a bit of a handful,’ which meant; lots of mischief, climbing, exploring far and wide (involving police searches) and being the life and soul of a party.
He talked non-stop and mum was occasionally heard to regret ever fighting for speech therapy. As he moved into his 20s he ‘quietened down’, which was a matter of some relief to our then aging parents.
Relief turned to concern as he gradually withdrew from life and speech.
Fast forward to 50 and a series of disappointments and bereavements, along with less than satisfactory residential placements, left him apparently depressed and with a few new labels of challenging and anti-social behaviour.
Nothing we tried was working.
Although we knew he was, at heart, a sociable character, we could see that he was unhappy sharing space and support with other people, so we took the plunge and rented a flat for him. Slowly, he began to wake up from a three decade long sleep.
Humour returned first. ‘Put the cat out’, he said about the cat shaped doorstop. For a few months, he was reluctant to go out, and wouldn’t go anywhere near his old homes. He loved his flat. No more sit-ins at the local after closing time!
Being able to go to bed at a time of his choosing meant that he chose earlier nights, midnight instead of 5am, which saw an improvement in his health and energy. Of course, having a consistent and dedicated staff team meant it was easier to encourage a good routine.
For the first time in his life, he is doing everyday things like cooking, cleaning and washing up. He loves to keep his flat tidy and is taking a pride in his appearance, which would make Mum very proud if she could see it. He loved putting up his own Christmas tree and decorating it.
I’m enjoying the stability; I didn’t realise how much I worried until he had settled into his new home. It’s been well worth the effort of getting everything in place. I’m really pleased I work for an organisation that listens to families and involves us in recruiting staff, so that other families can have the peace of mind I had to use a personal budget to acquire.
Now for my first mince pie of the season…ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!