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Lived Experience: Tom’s story

Finding independence again

In 2007, Tom was a bright 17-year-old who had just finished his first year studying IT when a devastating accident left him with a brain injury, turning his world upside down

Tom continues the story:

I fell 30 feet onto my head this left me with a brain injury, partially blind in one eye and with no sense of smell.

After hospital and rehabilitation, Tom moved back home to live with his parents while he studied, then into a flat of his own, but as Tom explains, he found living independently very difficult.

After college I had carers who came in to help me if I needed anything, but this really didn’t work for me. I started hanging out with the wrong kind of people and started smoking marijuana.

It became a very stressful situation. I need structure and a routine; this way of living didn’t give me that, so my parents and I decided it would be best for me to move to Thomas Edward Mitton House in 2014. It meant I could start again, I worked on some of the issues I had with my sight and cognitive problems with the rehabilitation team.

I felt happier and safer, and this was good for my mental health. I worked with a great care team and when I felt able, they supported me to move to one of Brainkind’s supported living houses in Milton Keynes.

This meant that I didn’t have to move to far away from the friends I had made and the area I had come to know well.

Tom moved to our supported living service in April 2014, to enable him to live as independently as he wanted, whilst still maintaining a form of support structure. He lives with two other people, and they share the housework and socialise together. It has also enabled him to take up new hobbies in a safe environment, like cooking. Tom is much more active now:

I have lots of hobbies, but my passion is cooking, I love to see the look on people’s faces when they are eating something I have cooked for them. The care team are always happy to test my creations for me and if there is something I don’t understand or know, they help me figure it out.

I like watching movies, keep fit, board games, music and I love learning new things. The staff at Browns Wood know I really love animals and helped me to get a job as a volunteer at Hula animal rescue centre. They charity rescues and rehoming cats, rabbits, dogs, and pigs, I really enjoy looking after two of the rabbits, Smudge and Floss.

I also volunteer at Thomas Edward Mitton House with the exercise group, hosting a quiz and support in the dining room, setting and waiting on tables. It’s important to me to feel useful, helping animals and people like me gives me a lot of satisfaction.

What the future holds

Tom is 33 now and has lived at Brown Woods for nine years, where he is happy and settled. He enjoys getting out into the community, making friends, and his volunteer work.

Frances Haddon, assistant service manager says:

Tom, requires daily prompting and support from staff, however, he is also clever and inventive and loves to help out, always the first to volunteer for things.

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