18th birthday is another milestone in EP’s journey!
Most of us view our 18th birthday as a milestone in our lives. It’s usually a major cause for celebration and, for one of our service users, this occasion felt even more joyous and significant than most. EP had an unforgettable day which not only marked his official passage into adulthood, but also embodied the remarkable personal development that he has achieved since moving into one of Heathcotes’ independent supported living apartments in early 2019.
EP was living in a hospital setting prior to moving to his apartment in Wellingborough. Prone to challenging behaviour, he found it difficult to spend time with others, including his family. However, after a few months in independent supported living, EP became more at ease with social interaction. Clear signs of change were evident during initiatives organised and accompanied by the support team, including a Halloween party and shopping trips. By the end of the year, EP had progressed to the extent that he was able to spend precious time with his family over the Christmas period, supported by one of our team during his visit.
After Christmas, EP began excitedly awaiting the next big date on his calendar, counting down the days to his 18th birthday on the 22nd of January. He chose his presents and decorations in the New Year.
On the 22nd, EP woke up in a bright, cheerful and very positive mood. He set off with staff on a journey to Watford to spend time with his parents again, more excited than ever to be visiting his family home and singing non-stop with staff whilst giggling and smiling. On arrival, EP stepped out of the car and began jumping and singing loudly. He was bursting with happiness, enthusiasm and energy.
EP opened his presents and thanked his parents before playing nursery rhymes from start to finish on their piano. He then went for a drive around Watford with his parents and was more talkative and observant than usual, pointing out new places and singing nursery rhymes. After the returning from the drive, EP grabbed a pencil and popped all the balloons placed around the house!
The staff and his parents sang Happy Birthday to EP as he blew out the candles on his birthday cake before saying his goodbyes. When he arrived back in Wellingborough, EP walked into an apartment which had been decorated with balloons, banners and confetti. The surprise made his smile even wider. He sat down and ate dinner whilst resisting the urge to pop the balloons!
When EP finished his meal, the staff had another surprise in store as they brought out another birthday cake for dessert, accompanied by another rendition of Happy Birthday. EP asked staff to join him in eating the birthday cake. It was a very significant step for EP: due to his OCD, he would usually want to eat the whole cake himself, but his desire to share was another reflection of his progress. EP read his birthday card and opened his present – a giraffe soft toy – with a big grin on his face.
EP brimmed with excitement throughout the evening. He was jumping, singing, cracking jokes and being the incredible, happy EP that everyone has come to know these days. His high energy levels continued until 2am, when the “food coma” finally crept up to finish off a wonderful birthday.
As a celebration of EP and an opportunity for his family to share his joy, the day couldn’t have gone better. It epitomised the value of our independent supported living. With the support of staff and the low-stimulus environment of their own self-contained space, service users with complex needs can start to flourish and enjoy life experiences that some of us take for granted.
In the words of EP, this day was “good, happy.”
Many happy returns, EP!