As hard as it is we must all ensure we support people to be themselves
I visited a gentleman I have known for many years in hospital the other day. For some time now he has very sadly found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with the loss of his mother.
His life had always been extremely well organised. He liked his routines and his mother helped him focus on what routines mattered in his life which he greatly appreciated. He lived at one point in a registered residential home moving on in to shared accommodation and a few years ago he moved again in to his own accommodation which he says today he loves.
Sadly his mother became ill and moved in to a nursing home and only died a couple of years ago.
Throughout his life his mother was such an important person in his life. He so much enjoyed the security and warmth of their relationship, her care and love for him and indeed she was the purpose of his life.
It was therefore so heartbreaking to listen to him the other day talking about how much he missed her and how painful it was to be without her. It was made more upsetting to hear him further freely express that also had such pain and regret about one decision which had affected his life so much and had made his life miserable.
He reflected that the decision for him to go to "the day centre for all those years was a terrible mistake", going on to say how much he really hadn't liked it at all. He said he had gone and kept quiet because he wanted to keep his mother who he loved so much, happy.
He went into detail about how it had made him feel and that he had never spoken about it before because he didn't want to upset his mother nor let her down.
His mother had felt that going to the day centre made him the same as everyone else in the community, she felt that going to the day centre was the same as him working and making a contribution in to society. She believed that him going would give him a sense of purpose, self respect and dignity. It enabled her to share with her friends that he was working just as she did making him the same as everyone else.
He attended the day centre religiously every day except for weekends and holidays, for over thirty five years for what he now reveals to have been for his mothers sake. It now turns out to be his "biggest regret" as he hated every day and didn't want to be there. His mother had tried so hard to ensure he was treated just as anyone else but in doing so it transpires he "conformed" to keep her happy at the cost of his own happiness.
We cannot do anything about changing the past but we can learn from the openness of this gentleman so experience and ensure that we ensure support people to develop their lives being themselves and do what works for them. Only in that way can we seriously uphold the true values of being customer- centric and person led. And in doing so ensure that we enable people to be proud of their life journey and not hold such sad regrets.
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