Alan was described by his wife Jeanne as “A kind, interesting and a very generous man” who enjoyed “a structured life”. Jeanne said that this structure was ‘a very big part of who he was’ and was something that defined his life. But in 2008 Alan developed Vascular Dementia and began to require external care, so that Jeanne could have some respite.
For Jeanne it was important for her peace of mind that Alan was looked after by the right person, she says “It had to be right, because he was mine”. That is when Alan met Stella, his Shared Lives carer, who was matched with him by Gloucestershire Shared Lives scheme and who cared for him when Jeanne needed a break. Jeanne said: “I knew right away she was the one. We got through it, with the help and support we received from Stella”.
Stella said Alan always liked to feel useful. He would always help her in any way she needed around the house. One of his favourite activities was walking Stella’s dogs, who always loved to sit on his knee. Stella and Jeanne still joke about how Alan became famous for carrying around dog biscuits at all times.
Stella captured the bond that people in Shared Lives have with one another when she described how Alan “became a part of the family” and that all her family and friends “Enjoyed his company – he was really interesting to listen to, he had such amazing stories”.
Jeanne said: “Next to me, Stella is the one who knows Alan best, as she spent the most time with him. Not quite as much as me as you weren’t married to him!” Jeanne and Stella feel that they’ll always be friends, and Jeanne hopes that Stella will look after her If she gets dementia!
About Shared Lives, Jeanne said: “It’s the very words, Shared Lives. You’re sharing your life. Alan met so many people that weren’t in his life before. They came into his life at such an important time for Alan, and for me.”