When Sean was sadly diagnosed with liver cancer, his friends and support team pulled together and made sure Sean was surrounded by love and friendship in his final weeks. Sean moved into one of our supported living services in Coventry nearly 13 years ago, around the same time as Stephen and Peter and the three soon became firm friends.
Senior support worker Jade says: “Sean was non-sighted and his verbal communication included saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and repeating phrases he liked. This meant that we had to learn and adapt to the other ways Sean communicated. He didn’t particularly use facial expressions, but we could tell so much from his tone of voice, the position of his shoulders, and his body language.
“Sean may not have been able to say what he wanted or to communicate how others do, but I watched the staff learn the most subtle cues of his behaviour to ensure he received the best possible support. I have no doubt in my mind Sean lived the most amazing life.”
With the staff and his friends having carefully learned how Sean expressed his likes and dislikes, all sorts of fun could be had. Sean, Stephen, and Peter loved going out together, whether bowling, for a walk, or to the pub for Sunday lunch. Jade says: “Sean loved any form of transport – and for quite a long time, that included horse riding. He really enjoyed loud noises, so the cinema was a real favourite and he loved any kind of music.”
Sean also enjoyed going on holiday with Stephen and Peter and a recent trip to Butlins was a great success. Jade says: “I don’t think I’d ever seen Sean so happy – he just never stopped smiling and laughing. Stephen and Peter would take turns to help Sean, who was having the best time with his friends and was just so excited about it all.”
Sadly, Sean became very ill soon after the holiday and was found to have liver cancer. This was extremely tough for those around him, both his friends and the team who had cared for him so diligently for so long. Sean passed away after just a couple of weeks, which made it very difficult for everyone to adjust to.
Jade says: “I know that this has been incredibly difficult for the staff. Like Sean’s friends, we’re grieving and hurt – and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I have received from staff who are hurting themselves. Sean being so ill and having such a difficult last few weeks of his life really made me question whether I could do this job any more, but the rest of the team checked in on me daily and their support made such a difference.”
Throughout Sean’s illness and end of life care Tracy, our service manager, has been at my side. She listened, she guided, she kept me going, and I am incredibly lucky to have her as a manager. She has given me strength and I am truly grateful. Martin, Getrude, Sylwia, Isatou, Deb, and Nana are also outstanding members of staff and I am so proud to have them on my team. This isn’t ‘just a job’ for this team, and the caring, supportive environment here at the service has made it possible for us to get through such a sad and difficult time together. Stephen and Peter miss Sean greatly, as we all do, but we’ll remember him with affection and smiles, for the incredible, vibrant character he was.
Service manager Tracy adds: “Jade is the most kind-hearted person who goes above and beyond and will always find a way to ensure all obstacles are broken down and people are fully included. Jade advocates for the people we support with such drive and passion, and this was clear to see with how Sean lived a fulfilled life here.”