Sarah and Owen's Story

Sarah Thomas, talks about her son’s overnight Short breaks experience and how it has changed as he got older;

“After a busy summer Owen went to the Willows for a week’s residential short break (respite to you and me) on Monday.  He is 17 now and he has been going to the Willows since he was 6, for a few days, every month and I genuinely believe that this has made a hugely positive contribution to our family life.  When packing for him to go this time I found myself thinking that it was more effort and trouble to get him ready for the Willows than it was to have him at home; have we got enough socks, what clothes does he need for the next week, are his meds all up to date, what do we need to tell the staff – you get the idea. 

Then I thought about what I was saying.  Yes caring for Owen at 17 is in many ways is a lot less challenging than it was when he was younger (we use to call him the ‘Pinball Kid’ because he constantly bounced from one thing to another, leaving a trail of destruction behind him.) but that is because as he has got older (and with the help of medication) he now will entertain himself in one place.  This effectively means that if he is not proactively engaged in an activity he will sit in front of the TV, flicking through You Tube or watching DVD’s all day, which for me is no trouble at all, but is clearly not good for him. 

This was a real reminder for me of how things can change in our relationship with our disabled children as they do in any parent child relationship.  When we first started using the Willows the main benefit was clearly the break that it gave us from caring for Owen, we were exhausted and in desperate need of that time out.  Things have changed however and now the Willows is as much about what it offers to Owen as it is about what it offers to us.  He loves going to his “club” (Owen has referred to the Willows as “my club” for as long as I can remember), the people there are his friends and he misses when he doesn’t see them.  He likes playing in the garden, chilling in his bedroom and going on trips with them and I bet he enjoys having some time out from us and his brothers!  So, a note to myself, remember Owen going to the Willows is not just about me, it is about him and the difference it makes to his quality of life and because of that it is worth any amount of packing and planning.

P.S  This morning we received the end of stay phone call from the Willows.  Owen has had a great week, the feedback is that they are so impressed with how much he wanted to engage and join in with conversations and to share experiences.  So nice to hear others talking so positively about him.

< Back to Parent Carer Stories