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“He’s got his personality back”

Tony Kirby and Darren Brooks talked about their Shared Life together with MPs at our recent parliamentary reception. Their humour had everyone laughing.

“I’m Tony Kirby, and I’m a Shared Lives carer. I’m here today with my wife Jane, who is also a Shared Lives carer, along with Darren. Darren, who through the Shared Lives scheme has now lived with us for almost a year.

We were first introduced to Shared Lives in 2015 and were immediately impressed by the support and dedication their staff showed. Not only to the people who need their support, but to their team of carers too.

Jane and I joined the team of carers in 2016 and carried out the relevant training needed. We had our concerns, especially if we could cope, as you can’t just clock on and off as a Shared Lives carer. But any of the doubts going through our minds soon diminished, as the Shared Lives team were able to answer all our questions quickly and professionally and put all our doubts to rest, leaving us feeling very confident.

When Darren came to join us last year, he was matched to our skills and ability, and to our environment, for example our family of two teenage daughters who were initially worried about sharing their space and our time together. But Shared Lives is all about sharing and caring, which works both ways, so we had to meet Darren’s needs too. Our job is to care for Darren, but also to help him to become more independent and self-sufficient, so that one day he’ll be able to live independently.

Darren wasn’t very talkative when he first joined us as he had been in a residential home for many years. It’s like he’s got his personality back now and rediscovered all the things he likes doing – fishing, walking, being outside, instead of stuck in front of a TV.

Just before Christmas last year his cousin came to visit him and was brought to tears. He hadn’t managed to have a conversation with Darren for over sixteen years. He thanked Jane and myself for what we had achieved in such a short period of time, and in no time, Darren was in full contact with most of his immediate family, who were also very appreciative of the work we had achieved. Darren also struggled with his health, but with a fitness program we put in place, this soon changed. He’s about to have an operation on his neck soon, but he still won’t be as good looking as me when he comes out!

Darren has become part of our integral family, and we take him on holidays and trips away. He fits in well to all our lives, and us to his, and although we must make a few changes to our daily routine to meet some of Darren’s needs, it’s never a problem.

So, we would like to thank Shared Lives and to the team of dedicated staff, for their support and being there for us, as we’re now one big happy family, and would recommend Shared Lives to all.

Thank you.”

“I’m Darren and I would like to thank Shared Lives for giving me the opportunity of gaining my life back, after living in a nursing home for many years, following my accident.

I am now living with Tony and Jane and their two girls in a happy family environment. Before I can’t really remember anything I did. I really enjoy my life now. I like going for walks now and like finding out new things and places, which I can’t see anything wrong with.”