With the right support Luke has blossomed living with his Shared Lives Carers Julie and Tommy Hughes in Paignton.
He moved in a year ago and has slowly worked on his mental health and is thriving.
“Moving in here is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” he said.
He’s now working at CentrePeace, support hub, in the town and is part of the local community.
“I’m buzzing and so positive about my future. I’ve found a job at CentrePeace and do waitering and am a kitchen porter. I’m there every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
“People there appreciate me which is nice.”
Through his job, he has also made friends and has a social circle.
“I’ve made lots of friends in Paignton,” he said.
“I meet with my friend Sarah and may have a curry and a beer and alternate by going to watch live music.”
Luke’s mental health has also improved as he’s taking his physical health seriously.
“Torbay Leisure Centre I visit regularly and go to the gym, I like going for long walks and enjoy swimming in the sea. I even did a sponsored swim for CentrePeace,” he said.
“Eating nice, good food that Julie and Tommy do for me, along with exercise has seen me lose three stone in weight. I’m trying to look after myself.”
He has also started Tai Chi lessons and loves it.
“I really enjoy it and find the benefits amazing and I also practice in my room too,” he said.
Julie, his Shared Lives Carer, has seen a huge difference in Luke in the time he has lived with her.
“He was very anxious when he first moved in, but over time that has decreased,” she said.
“It’s rewarding to see him blossom and help him to get on the right track and grow in confidence.”
Luke has lived in various supported living environments, but this is the first time his has lived with a family for a long time.
“I like living here Julie and Tom as I get to chill and have reinvented my life, if I want to read a book or listen to music I can and I have my own room. They are so helpful,” he said.
“The library is nearby and I can manage my emails and correspondence and get things done. My independence has improved and I can walk to pick up my medication.
“Before , I was put in different care homes and stressful living environments, where as this is similar to the lifestyle I had living with my family and I am happy.
“I can see me living here for quite some time and in the future I’d like to get a flat of my own. Julie and Tommy have facilitated everything for me and I see this as a stepping stone.”
Throughout his time living as part of the Shared Lives household, Julie and Tommy have helped him with communication skills, prompting and the encouragement he needs to be more live his fullest life.
“I want to go to Germany and have found what looks likes like the perfect holiday, so I am putting money aside for that now.
“I deserve a holiday and it’s nice to have something to look forward to.”
Lucy Gough, his social worker from Torbay Social Care Team, added: “Luke lived in 24 hour residential placements and supported living accommodation prior to Shared Lives.
“He was in a care home in Dawlish where he asked to remain there as he felt settled there. It was evident that Luke had the potential to live in a more independent setting and expand on his skills. Despite Luke’s nerves around the big change, Luke saw the benefits of living with a family and back to an area he is familiar with.
“He agreed to making the big step to move to Shared Lives from the care home. Luke was nervous initially and was used to some tasks being done for him. With prompting, Luke was gradually developed skills in doing more for himself such as tidying his room and his laundry.
“Since being in Shared Lives, Luke’s life and wellbeing has improved greatly. Luke has returned to volunteering at a local café which is a short walk from his Shared Lives placement. He has reconnected with old friends and also expanded his social circle.
Most importantly, Luke has reconnected with his family and went on a trip away with them which he has not done for several years. This has been a goal that Luke has been reaching towards for a long time. I believe as Luke’s confidence has increased, this has given him the confidence with arranging social outings with others.
“Luke has been eating healthier and had support from his carers with portion control and he has also joined the gym, which he attends regularly as well as groups such as yoga. Luke has achieved his goals to become fitter, healthier and lose weight as a result.
“He has been wishing to book a trip to Germany for a long time but did not feel confident in booking this. The Shared Lives Carers identified “Jolly Holidays” where Luke can attend Germany with a group of other people (on a coach).
“They supported him to look into this and book the trip to Germany. This is a massive achievement for Luke as Luke has successfully learnt German himself online and he wishes to utilise these skills in Germany.
“Luke lives in a very friendly environment. He gets on well with the other two residents and very well with the Shared lives Carers. He likes his room and lives in a clean, tidy and spacious environment. The location which is situated right next to the bus, train station and the library is also incredible.
“This further encourages Luke to take bus and train trips out to places that he enjoys visiting. Luke also enjoys reading and using the computer at the library.
“In summary, Luke’s independent skills and his mental and physical health has massively improved since being in this shared lives placement. His confidence has grown and he is consistently telling everyone how happy and content he feels. I believe this setting is perfect for someone with Luke’s needs.”
See other Shared Lives news here.