Mary has been living at Cherriton for 24 years now, since the service opened. Mary particularly enjoys shows and classical music amongst other things! I am Mary’s linkworker and I ensure that she is receiving the support she wants to go on holiday, do activities, meet up with her family and live the life she wants. I also check what’s working and not working for her in everyday life.
It is difficult at times to plan an exact choice of a day trip or hobby with Mary as she appears to find it difficult to express this choice, so we observe her body language and any patterns of behaviour which may show a like or dislike.
One thing is for sure, when Mary went to a classical group tribute show for her birthday, I saw a different side to her. Mary was giggling, tapping her feet and moving to the music in the tribute show! This was wonderful to see as Mary is usually quite shy and reserved. I was so pleased and felt a special connection to Mary as she appeared to get a lot out of the evening and had such a lovely time.
I could also sense, through touch, that Mary was relaxed during the evening, as when she was linking onto me for support to walk about the theatre, she was not anxious about anything, I got the sense she was looking forward to just being there- having a drink before the show and of course just enjoying the show itself.
I also made sure I used short sentences and a quiet voice with Mary to talk her through every step of the evening, as this appears to relax Mary when communicating with her.
I then reflected on the journey of how we got to this birthday night out for Mary:
Everything from thinking about what Mary appears to like, sharing the idea of the show with Mary and the people in her life, helping Mary to buy the tickets, helping Mary onto the house vehicle to go to the show and just being with Mary to share in the joy of her evening and then bringing Mary back home and knowing she looked like she had really enjoyed herself!
This particular event with Mary made me realise again, how even the smallest of planning can make a big difference in the life of a person we support. It also makes me think about how our interactions play such an important part in a person’s life to make it as fulfilling as possible- no matter how complex or not so complex a person’s learning difficulty is.
I’m privileged to be part of the lives of the people who live at Cherriton and in particular Mary’s life for the last five years and I thank you for making me realise how our Great Interactions can mean so much. Thank you Mary and thank you MacIntyre!