BROTHERS Travis and Dale Phillips love to get out, meet people and try new things.
And - thanks to Shared Lives – they are both able to enjoy these opportunities despite living with the rare genetic condition Ataxia telangiectasia (AT), which means that since adolescence they have both experienced progressively impaired coordination and mobility.
They live with their parents, Sylvia and Travis, in Stalybridge but each also have their own Shared Lives carers who spend time with them a couple of days a week to help give them independence and time away from home.
They talked about the positive difference it makes to their lives to help highlight Shared Lives Plus Week 15-24 June 2018 and recruit more Shared Lives carers in Tameside. Shared Lives, formerly known as Adult Placement, currently supports over 130 service users – from older people to adults with mental health illness or a physical or learning disability. Carers and service users are matched, based on requirements and compatibility, and arrangements are made for support – be in long term accommodation, respite care or support in getting out during the day and taking part in activities.
Dale, 56, told how he had been spending time with his carer Dalpat Hari for over 20 years. Over the years he has travelled abroad, skydived, abseiled and raised thousands of pounds for charity while also campaigning for equal access for wheelchair users.
He said: “Even though Dalpat is my carer, he is also my good friend. We get on very well, he gives me independence and we enjoy going out to different places and meeting people – be it going to the pub and out for meals or something completely different, I like trying new things.”
Dalpat said: “Dale was my first client when I first became a carer over 20 years ago. I love spending time with him and I love been a Shared Lives carer – everyone wants the same sort of things out of life and it is so rewarding to be able to give people the support and freedom to follow their dreams and live as normal a life as possible.”
Travis, 58, has a different carer and although he isn’t quite as adventurous as his younger brother, he values the opportunities that Shared Lives offers.
He said: “I like the scheme, it means I can go and do different things, I like shopping and going to the cinema. I’ve been with my carer on days out to places like Manchester City, Manchester United and on the big wheel in Manchester City Centre.”
Their mother Sylvia said: “Shared Lives is fabulous, it takes the burden off me – I couldn’t take both my sons out at once in their wheelchairs so this gives them chance to get out and spend time with people other than their dad and me. It gives them independence whether it’s shopping for their own food, going to the bank or post office or visiting somewhere new. Dalpat is wonderful – he’s like a member of the family. What a brilliant idea the scheme is.
“Having AT has been difficult for the lads, up until being about aged about 14 they led completely normal lives and then the condition just changed their lives overnight – first Travis and then Dale. However they live full lives – we are a close, positive and jolly family – and Shared Lives has helped us all manage the situation and very much make the best of it. I’m very proud of both of them.”
Tameside Council is recruiting more Shared Lives carers, who receive a generous allowance as well as full training and support. No formal qualifications are expected, the team welcome people from a wide variety of backgrounds, with different skills and life experience. For further information see www.tameside.gov.uk/sharedlives or call 0161 342 5151.