Service user blog: Meet Ben

My name is Ben, and this is my story:

Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease; my eye began twitching more and more, until my manager at the time asked me to go to the doctors. Eventually I did – and after the doctor carried out some tests, he confirmed the worst.

In a short space of time, my knees began to give way and I had to have two operations. My whole life began to crumble around me, but being the joker I am, I got through. It is a defence mechanism, but it works for me. I had two friends who helped me with my daily tasks, and assisted me with my dog. He was a an African Ridgeback and Lurcher cross – he was by my side the whole time and so important to me.

I spend quite a lot of time going out, and playing chess with my fellow residents – I’m trying to get a tournament started with the other homes. I have had quite a few other ideas, which have been fed back to staff at Exemplar, who will be coming back to me with news.

I have travelled a lot and have been a Director of a company, where you are working to keep people in jobs. I’ve also been a salesman and a manager. Every job I had, I received a promotion. Although I live in care and require support, I still have a lot to offer.

Throughout my time at Thames House, I have been a part in interviewing for care assistants with the Home Manager – all my opinions are listened to and we agree on which candidate’s to appoint. The Home Manager does the technical stuff, and I cover the personal stuff – such as finding out what they are all about and getting a feel for their personality. I like to have a bit of a joke to ease them into the interview, but I don’t go too far. I get a good feel about the candidate’s and look for where they make an effort in their appearance, their experience and proving why they are interested in the job they are applying for.

I would love to pick up a Service User Representative role, with the help from staff in the home to do this. The Service User Engagement Manager has been helpful in speaking to me about this, and I have been asked to be part of the Service User Council. This will give me and other service users chance to voice our thoughts and feelings on what happens within our homes – I am looking foward to getting started.