Blog Same Height

[responsivevoice_button voice=”UK English Female” buttontext=”Listen to Post”]

For the last 10 years Gareth has lived in a bungalow in the heart of his community. When he and his friend, Veronica, moved out of residential care they shared a bungalow for a number of years but now he lives there alone supported by his team of personal assistants PAs.

Gareth loves a good party so it went without saying that he and his team would organise a celebration to mark the 10th year of him living independently.

Gareth really does have a fabulous team of PA’s. The team is diverse and made up of ten unique individuals who all bring something special to his life.

I work as part of the team as well as leading it. We all work on a rota basis 24/7, some people work part-time, some just work sleep overs and have other jobs too. It’s great that we can all be flexible and get the most out of our work whilst keeping Gareth firmly at the centre.

The team are employed by a user-led trust, made up of friends and family, on Gareth’s behalf using a direct payment. As you might imagine, ten years haven’t gone by without there being any problems, we have had our fair share of staffing problems and other issues to deal with. However the positives and benefits of using a direct payment to support Gareth to live his life this way far outweigh any issues we’ve had to deal with. One thing to remember is that help is always on hand from employment advisors which are available as part of the employment insurance all direct payment users have to take out. We’ve made good use of this over ten years and this professional help gives peace of mind when trying to get the best for Gareth and balancing the needs of PA’s and any issues that crop up.

Sadly Gareth’s mum, Mitch or ‘Mumma’ to him, died two years ago but not before she put pen to paper and wrote this piece below.

“Gareth (nick-name Gan because he always enjoys eating – in fisherman’s language – a gannet), was born with the cord around his neck, this caused a lot of problems for him. At 5 years old he could walk if you held his hand. As he grew older he grew very tall but could only walk on his knees (which he still does to this day). When Gan was 13 years old his Dad and I agreed to him going into residential care as we were told that he needed, and would get, physiotherapy every day to strengthen his legs. He didn’t get the physio due to funding cuts!

Gan is a very sociable bloke – loves partying, he’s interested in other people, loves music, sings more than talks, he doesn’t have many words but he uses his eyes to communicate. So when he had the opportunity (due to his and my great friends) to live in a bungalow with his friend Veronica, we jumped at it. It was quite an involved carry on to make it happen but for the last seven years Gan has experienced living in HIS community, in his own home, coming and going as he pleases, going to bed when he wants to, getting to know people down the road, in the local shops, going on the bus, having pub lunches with friends and me, getting out into the countryside, going on holiday with his beloved carers, going swimming, going to discos – in fact he has been helped to buy disco equipment and run discos where everyone is welcome, in a pub – not hidden away in a ‘youth-club’. He has become quite the local hero and a role model and inspiration to others.

Of course all this wouldn’t be possible without a really dedicated team of carers, our lovely gang. They are not the lip-servers or members of the ‘self-glorification look how good I am brigade’, they are kind, on Gan’s wavelength, patient, understanding, loving and compassionate. My years are numbered and I’m the last of Gareth’s family.

It is great to know that he is with people he loves and who love him”