When we asked Laura and Yitz to tell us about their journey to becoming Shared Lives carers, Laura said:
Etty, who has Downs Syndrome, came to live with us in 2015 when we were local authority approved foster carers. We were always concerned about what would happen when Etty turned eighteen and had to leave fostering, so it was a huge relief when we were told we could apply to be Shared Lives carers so she could stay with us. We had the smoothest transition possible straight into Shared Lives in 2021; we didn’t need to go through another matching process as we were bringing our young person with us.
She is very much a part of our family; she enjoys spending time with our children and their families and she loves playing with and entertaining our grandchildren. Our children refer to Etty as their sister and are very protective of her; I’m still amazed at their ability to totally accept and love her as part of our family. Etty has always thrived on the care and stability we have provided for her and even though we have recently moved to a new home in a different area and she has had to change schools, (huge changes for anyone!) the effect on her has been minimal as we, as her family, have remained a constant.
Etty has her own bedroom and is the only member of the household lucky enough to have an en-suite shower room. This helps us to provide quite a high level of personal care as we work with her towards independence. Yitz and I share Etty’s care; I do more of the personal care and he usually collects Etty each day from college and takes her to Sunday club.
One of the minor challenges we have is that my husband and I both like to be on time when we go out, but Etty has little concept of time and so getting ready to go out often means me giving gentle reminders for her to hurry up every couple of minutes. I believe God sent us Etty to teach us the meaning of patience! It certainly helps that Etty is a ray of sunshine who brightens each day for us with her happy, sunny nature; she is a social butterfly who loves meeting friends and going to her friendship club.
Although we know that some of Etty’s hopes and dreams may never become realised, we can certainly help to provide her with every opportunity, to make those that can be achieved become a reality. Shared Lives has given us the ability to continue providing Etty with the security she needs to flourish and become a valued member of society.
To anyone out there who is wondering if this could be the job for them, I say ‘go for it’, you’ll be surprised at how much love your heart can hold!!
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