Sarah was an energetic 8 year old, when she went to sleep that night in 1977. She was bright and intelligent, an avid reader and full of life. Come the next morning we could not awaken her. She had a series of seizures and went into a coma for the next 6 months. Her illness was never diagnosed but the effects were lasting and obvious… severe and uncontrolled epilepsy; brain damage; lack of speech and verbal understanding to name just a few. Her behaviour became both violent and bizarre. With a 4 year old brother, her parents felt unable to cope and she went into a residential special needs school
Sarah now lives in a residential home for 10 adults with learning difficulties which is paid for by her Local Authority. The home is caring and provides a warm and friendly environment but only her basic needs are met. Sarah needs greater support than the home or the Local Authority are able to provide.
Her advocates at visit her regularly and supported by a member of staff, they take her out for walks, sometimes for lunch and when Sarah does not feel able to go out, they provide art therapy sessions. Sarah really looks forward to these visits.
Her advocates know Sarah so well that they are able to represent her at medical and social service reviews, ensuring her wishes and needs are fully expressed to those who are responsible for providing them. You cannot begin to imagine just how much relief that brings to our family, knowing that she is being heard as a person in her own right. This becomes even more important when we are no longer able to provide this support.
Sarah’s advocates have been able to improve her quality of life by explaining to social workers, doctors and staff at her care home just what she is feeling and ensuring that such feelings are not ignored.
The advocates report back to us after each visit and raise any issues or concerns that they may have. This is especially important to her brother who lives over 150 miles away. Photographs that accompany these reports really help to keep the whole family together.