PSS Shared Lives

Bob’s Shared Lives story

This is a story about Bob, a person using our Shared Lives service.

Before we knew Bob

Bob has spent most of his life looking after his two brothers, who have mental health problems. Bob also has mental health problems himself.

In school, he was seen as a naughty boy and was sent away by his parents, because he was ‘too hard to handle’. At the age of 14, Bob had electric shock therapy. All he remembers about this is the corridor he used to walk down and the double doors he used to walk through to get there. Bob couldn’t remember anything afterwards. He just said it felt like fog.

At this point, Bob was diagnosed with schizophrenia and started taking medication.  Bob’s memory gets a bit blurred now – he can’t remember much about the following years. What he can remember, though, is that he never went back to live with his parents.

Bob took on the role of looking after his younger brother.  He looked after him for 30 years, taking care of his brother’s money, cooking and cleaning, as well as keeping him company. Bob and his brother had a strong bond.

Bob’s younger brother became mentally unwell in July 2017 and had to go to hospital.  Their bond had been broken and Bob was lost. He wanted to be closer to his brother. He thought the best way to do this would be to take all of his tablets. Unfortunately, this brought back problems with Bob’s mental health and he too had to go to hospital, in the next ward to his brother.

When we met Bob

Bob was referred to PSS Shared Lives Home From Hospital service in December 2017. Home from Hospital is a scheme where people who are ready to leave hospital, but not quite ready to go back to their usual lives yet, go to live with a Shared Lives carer for a short period of time, until they get back on their feet again. Bob’s Home from Hospital placement was due to last six weeks.

‘When I met Bob, he could hardly talk, he was sweating, confused and disorientated’ says Jane, who works in our Shared Lives Midlands team.  ‘He would say yes to anything I asked.  With the help of his social worker I managed to put together a profile of Bob, to share with the carers and find him a match.’ The great news is, we found the perfect person for Bob.

Bob was really scared about leaving hospital and going to a stranger’s home.  The carer sat with him and talked about her home and showed Bob some photos to ease his worries.  This helped a lot.

Bob felt ok to come out into the open air for the first time in four months to go and live with his new carer.

When Bob moved into Shared Lives

‘Bob had very high needs when he first came to us’, says Jane.  ‘He needed full support to take his medication.  He couldn’t make a decision at all – he couldn’t choose his clothes and couldn’t dress himself.  He couldn’t get in or out of the shower and was reluctant to wash.’

Our Home from Hospital carer supported Bob in taking his medication. He had 12 types of tablet to take daily. His carer worked with the chemist to organise this – so that Bob has had the confidence to take on his own. Bob was very quiet and would sleep a lot. He eventually stopped talking at all. His carer got support to help with this and also encouraged him to shower and dress himself.

Bob’s carer helped him get back on his feet again. They took him shopping to buy some clothes that were easy to manage and some nice things for his flat when he got home. Bob got stronger from a better diet and started going back home with his carer. This went from half an hour a week, to one day, to overnight, until he became confident around the home.

The carer helped Bob practising how to get in and out of the bath and how to get a hang of cooking meals he liked and more healthy options by himself. The carer also practiced walks to the local shops together, as well as getting the bus and getting to medical appointment. This gave Bob a routine and confidence to be on his own.

The carer also supported Bob to keep links with his brothers and would take Bob to visit his brother in hospital whenever he wanted to go.

Jane said: ‘As we were getting close to the end of the Home from Hospital placement of six weeks, it was obvious that Bob wasn’t ready to go back to his own house.  Bob told me that he wanted to go home but he still needed a bit more help. Another two weeks working with him was agreed with his social worker.’

The Bob we know today

‘The two weeks extra support was the turning point for Bob. When I visited, I couldn’t believe the difference.  Bob was able to talk with me, we had a laugh about things and he filled in a form for me without any hesitation’, Jane told us. ‘He went home that week and the carer supported Bob to move back in.  We agreed with the social worker that the carer would be available over the phone to talk Bob through any anxieties he was feeling.  Bob didn’t ring.’

‘I went to visit Bob recently, in his own home with his new care agency, and he had washed and dressed himself, made his own breakfast and his hospitality was great.  He even made me a lovely cup of tea!’

Bob tells his new carers that he wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the help from Shared Lives. He said: ‘I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had my carer.  I don’t think I would be here.

We are so proud of the progress he has made.