Jeni* had lived with her parents until she was 47 years old. When her mother was taken ill and went into hospital, her father found it difficult to manage on his own. Jeni* was offered a respite place in a Voyage Care supported home in a part of London while her mother was in hospital.
After her six week placement came to an end, Jeni* asked if she could stay in her new home. She wanted to tell her story in her own words.
My name is Jeni* and I live in London.
When I was very small I used to fall a lot. I don’t know why, I didn’t fall over anything. I sometimes hurt myself but most times I was OK. Mum and Dad used to worry about me a lot. I was an only child and needed a lot of help to do things I found hard to do for myself.
When I was 5, I started school but not with the other kids on my road, I was picked up by a bus and brought home too. The other kids used to call me names, but I don’t know why, I never call them names back. Mum used to say take no notice, come inside and ignore them!
It was hard for me to get around as I can’t use my right side, so I got a special thing that had to go on my leg to help me walk. The other kids made fun of me when they saw me, but Mum said just ignore them so I did just that.
We had lots and lots of fun, Mum and Dad always had to hold my hands in case I fell. Sometimes I still fell. Mum always said they would be there to catch me.
Mum and Dad started to take me to a lot of clubs where we would play lots of great games and meet other kids and mums and dads too. I sometimes found it hard to talk as no one ever listened to me much, so I didn’t talk much.
We used to go on holiday every year, just Mum, Dad and me. We had lots and lots of fun, Mum and Dad always had to hold my hands in case I fell. Sometimes I still fell. Mum always said they would be there to catch me. I made lots of friends growing up in London and I went to a day centre. I liked pottery and music and made lots of plates and bowls for Mum.
Then one day Mum got very sick and an ambulance came and took her to hospital. Dad was very tired looking after me, so two people came and asked if they could help us while Mum was in hospital. Dad said yes. This was February 2015, and this is where my story begins.
I was now living in a new place, not with my Mum and Dad but with other people like I was sharing a house with them. People were there to help us and show us how to do things. It was a bit hard for me at first as I was used to mum and dad doing everything for me.
I used to fall a lot and sometimes hurt myself and have to go to hospital. No one knew why I kept falling, they just kept saying I had epilepsy but I didn’t know what that meant and Mum and Dad never told me. So Mum and Dad said it was easier if I just sat down all the time , so that is what I did. But now it has all changed!
Some people said I can’t do things for myself but I said yes I can, I can ask Caroline. The nurse who used to come to see mum now comes to see me and she said how well I am doing, having friends and talking and doing things and going out.
Now I have my own carer who looks after me, her name is Caroline. I like Caroline. We would go visit mum every week in hospital and when she came home. I started to learn how to lots of things for myself in the home like wash my face and hands, one of my hands doesn’t work but it is ok, I use the other one. Dad was very happy I was doing all these things but mum said I should be careful in case I fall.
I started to go to a day centre and I liked it there. Some people said I can’t do things for myself but I said yes I can, I can ask Caroline. The nurse who used to come to see mum now comes to see me and she said how well I am doing, having friends and talking and doing things and going out.
I have been living in one of the services for two years now and Mum and Dad have gone to heaven. One day the home manager Val asked me if I would like to visit other homes. I would be speaking to people and asking them about where they live and their staff. I would ask them if liked where they live, like I do. I said I would and we went to Birmingham for an interview. Val sat in with me because I was a little bit nervous, but the people were nice and one had epilepsy like me!
They told me all about what I would be doing and I would get my own folder and a badge with my name on it with Voyage Care volunteer on it. Val explained what volunteer was too. A few days later Kathy who interviewed me rang me and told me I did really well and I had got the job. I was very happy. I have been on two days training, that’s where they tell you and show you what you will be doing and the best news is Caroline will be staying with me when I go to visit other homes.
Val said Mum and Dad would be so proud of me and I think they would too. I have my pictures in my room and kiss Mum and Dad every morning and night and have told them all about my new life at the Voyage services. I think about my mum and dad a lot, but I am not sad as I have my family here at the Voyage services. I now have all my boxes and CDs from my old house. I am going to buy a record player to play my music in bedroom too. I am very happy living with my friends.
*Details have been changed for confidentiality reasons.