For Tracy her Shared Lives journey started two years ago when her mum became too unwell to continue to care for her and she went to live with Shared Lives carer Barbara. Barbara is a yoga teacher and when one of her students and friends moved to India, she invited Tracy and Barbara to visit her. Tracy doesn’t use words to communicate and has never been abroad so Barbara worked hard to try to make sure that she understood what this meant and was happy with the idea. She also spoke with Tracy’s family who completely supported it as a wonderful idea. There were some hurdles with getting Tracy’s passport and vaccinations but all was sorted for the day they flew.
We were all feeling positive about the trip but slightly worried as it was such a change for Tracy. Tracy prefers not to engage in eye contact and is often looking down, as such in most of the photos of her, she’s not looking at the camera. When Barbara started to send us pictures through we couldn’t believe it. Tracy’s family said, “I have never seen Tracy smile like this!”
Some of the things Tracy finds tricky have been around touching different surfaces and she doesn’t like to have bare feet or arms. She is usually wrapped tightly in a coat. She doesn’t always like to leave the house at night. These are some of the things she experienced:
- Walking barefoot on the sand and in the house
- Wading and paddling confidently in the sea
- Loving the cows wandering in the street and travelling by tuk tuk.
- Indian food for breakfast, lunch and tea.
- A turtle and butterfly farm
Tracy and Barbara have (reluctantly!) returned to the UK with a happiness, confidence and set of memories that have deepened their understanding of themselves, the world and each other. This is no better explained than by Tracy’s smile and by Barbara in one of her messages home to us:
We saw 4 dolphins on our boat trip. Tracy was unbelievable she waded out through a foot of Indian Ocean climbed with help onto the boat and loved the experience I was so very impressed. She's strong and nothing stops her from gaining new experiences. I am truly gifted to have her as my friend. She teaches me something new every day. I love Shared Lives.”
Shared Lives Manager