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My Favourite Day In Care

Let me tell you about my most favourite day I have ever experience working in the care industry...(Make sure you have some tissues ready!)

In a previous role, before my life as a self employed carer, I used to be a team leader and I managed teams of carers who looked after people with learning disabilities who were living in the community. As with any job in care, there was ups and downs, this same role saw me have my worst days in care too. But this post, is about my best day. Actually it wasn't MY best day. It was a gentlemen we supported, it was his BEST day.

This gentlemen was 79 years old. He had the title/honour/badge of being the longest person to be in our care service. I'm not exactly sure when he arrived at the care company, record keeping wasn't too fabulous back then, but he had lived in the care company's care for over 70 years. Whilst I'm not too sure if this was a thing to celebrate, this gentlemen had had a lovely life.

He went on holidays abroad, he enjoyed delicious home cooked food, he had some excellent friends, he had multiple hobbies, he loved football, he had worked in the gardens, he took great pride in his pond at home and loved listening to music. In his later years he enjoyed going to a retirement club, singing karaoke and having a chat with his friends. He even celebrated Christmas with Father Christmas still visiting every year, with the staff dutifully putting out presents every Christmas Eve and no-one ever broke the magic for him. Because whilst he was in his 70s, mentally he was still a child.

At Christmas this gentlemen would be invited to spend Christmas at a member of staffs house, so he got to enjoy a family Christmas. Because as lovely as his life really was, the one thing he didn't have was 'his own people'. He had no family.

This gentlemen grew up during the time when care was delivered in big institutions. Lots of people with learning disabilities all living onsite, locked away from the general public. When I worked there, the institution setting is now the offices and everyone lived in the community as per progress. When he came to visit the offices, he would tell me about the pub on site, the swimming pool that was once there, the fun they had, it was a happy place for him. Luckily for him, he went to a nice institution.

From the institution days this phrase was used 'your people are coming today'. Which was simply, your family is visiting. This gentleman never had any people.

He would watch all his friends get to see their people. Hugs and kisses. Smiles and laughter.


He would watch this throughout his years. The setting changed, to his home in the community, but he would still watch his housemates with their people.

Sometimes his friends would go out with their people, and even go on holiday, or stay a away for a few nights. It didn't concern him too much as there was always someone to chat to at home. With the exception of Christmas. All his friends went to their families at Christmas which would leave this gentlemen at home, alone with staff. Hence why he was invited to join Christmas celebrations at a staff members house. At least he got to be involved in a family, even if he wasn't part of one.

Then one day, a letter arrived. It was short and to the point 'We have been searching for you for many years, I believe you are my uncle'. Bar adding where they were from, that was pretty much all the letter said.

I remember getting a phone call from a staff member about the letter she had just read to the gentlemen. I dropped what I was doing straight away and went to see said letter.

Whilst this gentlemen had genuinely had a nice life, he was really well thought of and was a super kind hearted soul. There was one thing missing in his life. One thing that nobody could ever deliver for him. His own people.

I took the letter and did some digging. I wanted to check it was legit before we open this potential amazing thing, but also a potential can of worms!

I went back to the offices and asked were the old files were archived. I headed into a cellar under what used to be the pub, with a torch, clearly this isn't a place visited often. I managed to locate his old file. I found a rough timeline of events. As I said before, record keeping wasn't a priority back then. But I did find a birth certificate stating his place of birth. The place of birth matched where the letter had come from. By no means enough evidence to pass a court trial, for us it was enough to take the risk and get back in touch with the letter sender.

So I rang. I remember literally shaking. This was a big moment. Were they family that were after something? Did they know their uncle had a learning disability so they wanted to prey on his vulnerability? Did they even know he had a learning disability? Were they expecting to speak to him on the phone and have an in-depth heart to heart conversation? But instead they got me, a staff member speaking on his behalf as this was beyond his ability.

They picked up. It was a man.

I introduced myself and told him about the situation. He was elated that the letter had reached his uncle. He told me a story....

One day a little boy was playing outside his house. He was being a little naughty and his neighbour shouted over 'be careful doing that, your mum will send you away too if you don't stop it'. An off the cuff comment from the neighbour. But one the little boy didn't fully understand, but it stuck with him.

Then on another day, the same little boy was routing around his mums room trying to find his birthday presents. Whilst he was routing in the bottom of his mums wardrobe, he found a card 'To mum, love from S'. Well this little boy didn't have any brothers that went by that name.

When asked, his mum would simply not engage in this conversation. So the mystery simply lingered for many years. With the little boy always wondering 'do I have another brother?'

The years passed.

There had been a few attempts over the years to find this possible long lost brother. But with only a first and last name and place of birth to go from, the search was hard. With everyone's attempts left fruitless.

Then one day, they came across a company that said they can track down people, Find My Monkey if memory serves me right.

And that company achieved the impossible and had tracked down his long lost brother.

So we arranged for them to come and visit the very next weekend. It was a long journey for them, a 5 hour car drive, but it didn't matter to them, they couldn't wait to meet him!

I remember getting a phone call to say the family have turned up early. They were all so excited they had set off sooner than expected. I remember racing down the motorway, driving over the speed limit to get there to meet them. I was so excited to meet them too!

I remember seeing the joy on the gentleman's face at meeting his people. This level of emotion I had never seen from him before, holding back tears of joy, pure instant love etched into face. There were a lot of tears from everyone. Happy tears though.

We had supported this gentlemen for many years, he had had a good life, everyone thought the world of him, but there was one BIG thing missing. A BIG void that isn't replaceable. His OWN people. And now he had got it. He had waited 79 years for this moment.

His family visited regularly after that. He went from having no family to being part of a massive family, with several brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews! He celebrated his 80th birthday with a big party with lots of music, the room was already going to be full as the gentleman had A LOT of friends, but this time, it was even fuller as he now had A LOT of family celebrating with him too! It was his best birthday he had ever had.

The gentleman had a catch phrase he said often 'I'm the best man here'. He truly was the best man there.

He died the next year. He died peacefully in his sleep. He was content and had literally lived his best year. Age had caught him.

This gentleman was a remarkable man. A genuinely beautiful soul. To have supported him was an honour, to have been involved in his best year was a true privilege. His story will always remain with me. My little boy is named after him.

My little boys name is Stan.

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