Facilitating a 50th birthday

Kevin is a man who is full of life and likes to enjoy himself. Kevin can find it difficult to control his anxieties at times, especially if he is not sure what is happening. I felt it was very important that he had a 50th birthday where he was fully involved with all the plans and preparations, so that he could enjoy his birthday celebrations without having to worry about what was happening and when. Kevin communicates his wants and needs very well, so I used this opportunity to listen to and support Kevin to plan a party and a trip to the zoo which he could be involved in from start to finish.

I used link worker meetings leading up to his birthday to have one to one time with Kevin, so he had a chance to express what he would like and how to plan his party. Kevin was involved with choosing a venue, decorations, what time to have the party, what food and drink to have, who to invite and invitation writing, and of course, a choice of what cake to have. Kevin is a very sociable person and wanted to invite everyone from the postman to cliff Richard! It did put my facilitation skills to the test, as I didn’t want to be negative about Kevin’s choices, but I knew Cliff Richard was probably not going to attend……. we settled for a cliff Richard cd instead.

Kevin had various questions leading up to his birthday, I always made sure that I was responsive to Kevin, as I knew how important it was that he was aware of what was happening and when. I also gave Kevin regular updates and would talk to him about his plans to try and avoid him worrying too much.

On the day of his party, through observation, I could clearly see Kevin was excited, but a little anxious; I made sure that I engaged with him and again kept updating him on what was happening next. Once the hall was decorated, family and friends arrived and the food was in the oven, Kevin started to relax and he thoroughly enjoyed himself: he was dancing and laughing and seemed to be so proud. The staff and I made sure the music was playing, drinks were flowing and Kevin’s fish and chip buffet was ready on time.

As the party was coming to an end, I asked Kevin if he wanted to cut his cake and make a speech. What came next really moved everyone. I had positioned myself next to Kevin, who was standing in front of all his family and friends, just to give him some encouragement and support. I said to Kevin, “Would you like to make a speech?” and for a few moments there was silence, I gave Kevin time to process what I had said, but also thought that he may not have understood what I had meant, I rephrased my question to “Would you like to say thank you?” Kevin then started a speech that was clear, loud and very lovely. I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing; it was a very proud moment for him and a moment I will never forget.

His family asked me if I had told him what to say, as they were so proud and couldn’t believe how well he delivered his speech, but it was all Kevin’s words and one part of the party planning that I had absolutely no input in. During the conversation, his family told me that they were really pleased with how well the party had gone, especially as this was the first birthday party Kevin had ever had! I was quite surprised by this comment.

On reflection, looking back over the past few months, and knowing what I know now about it being Kevin’s first party I’m so pleased and happy that Kevin had the chance to make all his own choices and he got everything that he wanted, apart from Cliff Richard attending! I’m glad I encouraged him to make all his own decisions and gave him the opportunity and time to make a speech: I had no idea what Kevin was going to say, but I’m glad I supported him to have this moment to shine.

On the day of Kevin’s birthday, he chose to go to Whipsnade zoo to meet the elephants, another very successful choice and memorable trip, but I’ll leave that story for another day.

Caroline Bradley
Head of Service
The Cherries, Buckinghamshire

Comments

  • Natalie Macpherson says:

    What a lovely blog Caroline. It’s amazing how people surprise us with what they can achieve when we give them the opportunity. Looks like Kevin had a fantastic 50th.

  • Wendy Cook says:

    What lovely memories have been made for Kevin and his family and great photos too 🙂

    Well done Caroline your patience and understanding gave Kevin the confidence to make his speech

  • Nicola Payne says:

    Kevin appeared to have a great time and including him in all steps of party prep really made a difference to Kevin giving him choice and control. Happy Birthday Kevin and look forward to hearing about your time with the elephants one day.

  • Fay Walker says:

    Happy Birthday to Kevin. It sounds like he had a fantastic party and what a wonderful moment for him to feel supported to deliver a speech.

  • Lyn Forster says:

    What a lovely story well done everyone

  • Marina Clark says:

    What a great celebration Caroline, and wishing a very Happy Birthday to Richard. “I knew Cliff Richard was probably not going to attend……. we settled for a cliff Richard cd instead” – creative way of still meeting his wishes but maybe more realistic. And what a beautiful outcome of delivering his own Thank You speech! Thank you for sharing with us all this special moment!

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks for this Caroline – it’s amazing what assumptions we make, like you it would never occur to me that someone could reach the age of 50 and never have had a Birthday party! It makes the time you put into planning with Kevin even more important so well done to you and well done Kevin.

  • Jose Quezon says:

    What a Golden Moment for Kevin !! Inspiring indeed , truly demonstrates what amazing things happen when people are involved and become the focus of what we do !!

    Well done ,Caroline !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Telephone 01908 230100 Email hello@macintyrecharity.org