Derek’s story

Here Derek from Bolton talks about the financial, physical and emotional abuse from his neighbour which lead to him having a nervous breakdown and PTSD and then being sectioned. By offering a more flexible care and support service he was able to live with a Shared Lives family instead of going into residential care. He is now on the way to turning his life around and no longer needs his anxiety medication.

“I used to be the main carer for my mum and I was working at this time but then she moved into a residential home and so I decided to move out too. I got a flat of my own in a different part of Bolton.

“After moving, I began having problems with my new neighbour. This was upsetting me a great deal, but I didn’t feel able to tell anyone about it. My family were really worried about me and knew something was wrong but didn’t know what. They took me to A&E as I was having some problems with constipation; the doctor there noticed I had a bruised eye and started questioning me. I finally revealed that my neighbour was abusing me financially, physically and emotionally. As a result, A&E contacted the emergency duty team at social services. This is when I first heard about Shared Lives. I thought I would feel safer living with other people so I decided to go and live with my nephew and agreed to having short breaks with a Shared Lives carer family.

“After a couple of weeks of staying with my nephew and his beautiful family, I became really unwell and suffered a nervous breakdown. My family were really struggling and couldn’t cope so I was admitted to a care home for older adults. I continued to feel unwell and completely shut down. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, wouldn’t eat or drink, or maintain any eye contact with anyone. I was told I was suffering from PTSD which unfortunately made me aggressive, so I was sectioned and was admitted to a psychiatric ward at Royal Bolton Hospital.

“When I started to feel better, I was discharged from hospital to a residential home. I was starting to get better but residential care didn’t really suit me and I was still frightened of living on my own in case it happened again.

“My social worker talked to me about what the different options could be and talked about the idea of Shared Lives for a long-term arrangement. I was introduced to a Shared Lives family and I liked the idea of living with them as it was in an area of Bolton I wanted to be in again. This has really helped me.

“I am now very happy and settled with the Shared Lives family I live with. I have a fear of living alone and going through mental ill health again. But by living with a Shared Lives family it means I can do my own thing but they can keep an eye on me too. Being part of the family life has been so crucial to my recovery and I feel so much more confident, happy and outgoing.

“I used to take anxiety medication but I don’t have to take it now. I get to spend plenty of time with my family, going on caravan holidays and going out. My life is so much happier and more active now. I’m not quite ready to live on my own yet, but I’m getting better every day and will be able to do so one day soon.

“Shared Lives have been very supported all the way and have involved me in the whole process, including a say about who the long-term family were. Residential care was not right for me and Shared Lives was a different way of living that suited me better and is helping me to get better.”