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My Brain Injury & Me Part 2

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15 March 2023

Independent Living Trial

Because of how my brain injury was acquired, a medical negligence case was fought and won in January 2013. It took 18 years for the case to conclude, resulting in me receiving compensation to support my daily living.

At this time, I was 18 years old, and I decided to move out of my parents’ house to start an independent living trial to explore the possibility of me living alone. I had a great support network, including my parents, support worker, occupational therapist, and case manager. I began by looking at local flats to rent and found one around five minutes away from my parents in Middleton. Initially, I planned to stay at the flat Monday to Friday, return home for the weekend and have a support worker stay overnight two nights a week. I had a support worker with me three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, providing me with support and teaching me daily living skills. I received support to cook meals, starting with making sandwiches and then building up to more complex meals over time. I was supported with cleaning, managing finances and bills and shopping. The support I received was essential in helping me break tasks down into manageable goals.

The Move to Living Alone Full Time

After a few years, I felt that I was able to progress to the next stage of independent living and I decided to purchase my own place, living completely alone for the very first time. I spoke to my support worker and deputy about my decision to buy a property and live independently to see how they felt about it. They both agreed with my decision. I found an apartment close by, which I bought and moved into with help from my support worker. I progressed further with my independent living skills. When I first purchased my apartment, I felt scared because this felt like the real thing now, not just a trial! In all honesty though , the move actually didn’t feel challenging when I did it, because I already had 3-4 years of experience in the independent living trial in the previous flat, and I had already moved from one flat to another. The flat was in a completely different complex but in the same area.

What's Changed?

There weren’t really any major differences, other than I now owned the property, rather than rented. If anything, it built my confidence more over time by having my responsibilities and made me more mature, growing into the person I am today. One of the added responsibilities once I moved was maintaining my own property, for example, if the boiler breaks down, I had to learn what to do, who to ring. Simple things like a household appliance breaking, such as the cooker, became my responsibility to replace, not the landlord’s.

My living skills were improved by learning more complex meals, getting into a routine that suited me on a day to day basis, help from support workers to break down recipes, for example, into more manageable steps that I could follow and understand.

I did experience some difficulties with living alone. I initially found that dealing with my own company and doing daily things, such as eating alone, dealing with dark mornings and evenings alone was hard. I winter, it felt very daunting at first and I had to adjust to dealing with the loneliness and boredom. Over the years, it got easier by finding ways to cope, like putting some music on, watching my favourite film, or reading a book and generally finding a distraction to take my mind off it.

Next Steps

Now that I have successfully lived alone for some time, my next steps are learning and understanding more about my own and others’ brain injuries and perhaps look into a learning difficulty, such as autism. I would love to purchase and move into a house and also start a family in the future. My advice to anyone worried about living independently is to go for it, do it!!! Have a chat with support, set reasonable goals and go at your own pace and, in time, you will gain confidence and be surprised at yourself and what you have achieved and conquered. You’ll see how it’s improved you as a person. Also, you’ll look back and say to yourself, ‘I’m so glad I did it!’

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