My sister Julie has been living at a McFarlane Trust home for several years now. I grew up living with Julie at home, and our dad was her primary care provider until his 80s. However, as he got older it got harder to look after Julie the way she needed to. Dad developed Alzheimer’s disease at 81 and it progressively got worse. He struggled to comprehend what time of day it was and consequently was overfeeding Julie sometimes. He wasn’t able to look after himself let alone Julie. The social worker and I had noticed the change and felt it was time to give Julie the support she needed at that time.
My dad had never really wanted Julie to go into care, as he had an impression of it that was based on outdated standards. I was even dubious about whether it would work for her. We hadn’t heard about McFarlane before we went along to look at houses. We had a social worker at the time who suggested Care in the Community which led us to looking at supported housing. I went to see a few houses but the minute I walked into the McFarlane home I knew it would be right for her.
Julie has now been in the house ever since and she absolutely loves it. Before Covid, she would get massages, and get her nails and hair done – the full works! She’s also been able to do Slimming World and is much healthier because of it. Her room is brilliant, fitted with lights and music. Jen, her key worker, has helped her set that up and it looks amazing. She’s been her key worker for over a year now. I’m astounded by everything she does for Julie, she really goes the extra mile.
I get to visit Julie often, there’s a sun house out the back of her house that we spend a lot of time in when I’m there. Sitting on a beanbag there on a sunny day has got to be one of her favourite places. She lives with three other women: Pamela, Sandra, and Paula. Everyone in the house except for Paula is non-verbal, but they all get along brilliantly.
My dad got to see Julie in the house before he passed away at home, which is what he always wanted. I think seeing how happy she was there helped him to know she would be well looked after for years to come. We can see how much healthier and happier she is now. Julie’s been able to do things with her key workers at McFarlane that we never dreamed of doing with her. She has a life now, and it’s given me and my husband our lives back without having to worry about her being safe and sound.
The people at McFarlane Trust have given Julie the life she was always meant to have, she gets to go out and enjoy shopping and activities with her key workers and friends, she gets to dress up and feel good about herself without having to worry about the people around her not understanding her. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her, I think.
If anyone in my position was thinking about looking at a McFarlane Trust home for their loved ones, I would absolutely say go for it. Our stories hopefully will help people see that there really is very little McFarlane can’t do! Even for people with very complex needs, McFarlane Trust will support you every step of the way.