Sean has been supported since 2pm on 14 August 2018 by Hayley, who is an Independent Support Worker at Strode Park Foundation. Karen Jeal is the charity’s Fundraising, Marketing and PR Manager and she popped along to see how Hayley has made a difference to Sean’s life in this time.

I knock on the door of Sean’s first floor flat in Canterbury and immediately get greeted with a smile and a welcome in. They’ve both been busy cooking lunch in the kitchen.

Sean heads straight off to pop some music on and we start to have a little dance to ‘Tasmin Archer’s Sleeping Satellites’. Hayley is a breath of fresh air for someone like Sean and you can see how relaxed they are with each other. She says to Sean: “What do we normally say pointing to her head and feet… “Up there for thinking, down there for dancing.”

He laughs and as she pops the chicken in the oven they tell me a story about tin foil. Hayley hates foil and it was just about bearable for her to cover the tray in it. Then they spoke about the time Sean went one further and thought it would be funny to cover the chair Hayley always sits on completely in foil, literally she says the whole thing covered. “Oh we did laugh”, she says.

Hayley, who comes to Sean three times a week, does different things with him each time and encourages him to come up with ideas for things to do. Sometimes it’s cooking, sometimes we go out, other times we go food shopping, attending appointments and I’ve also helped Sean sort his bills out.

She explains that Sean is on the autism spectrum, so loves routine and everything is easier for him to understand if it’s visual. She leads me through to the front room, where there’s colour-coded paper on the wall with all the bills that need paying and when and a little schedule for dinners for the week. As we went through to the front room, I can’t help but notice lots of height chart arrows on the door frame. Sean added: “Every time Hayley comes we measure her height.”

“It’s all very visual.”

There’s a knock at the door. It’s Sean’s parents, who have come for lunch.

Hayley explained that she has encouraged his parents to visit more often to enjoy more family time together.

While Hayley goes and checks on the cooking, Sean explains about his hobby with buses. He said: “I go down to Canterbury bus station every night and log each buses registration number, colour, bus number and I like to talk to the drivers. I think I know the exact time of each bus by now and sometimes I walk down and other times I’ll have a little ride down the road on one.”

And the bus theme continues through his home with a cabinet full of collector bus models and an array of bus-themed fridge magnets.

Hayley talks about their hours together each week. She said: “We do cooking once a week and Sean will help to peel a potato, chop some veg or pass me a fork. He feels part of it and that leads him to telling people he’s cooked the whole dinner,” she grinned.

“Every day I tell him how proud I am of him and we high five all the time. We always end each day on a high. The other day when I turned up he decided to hide from me just outside and even though I know where he is, I go along with it and we have the best time.”

Sean jumps in: “If you can’t find me you can just call the RAC.” We all laugh.

It’s really evident that Hayley loves her job and I asked her what she loves most. She said: “I really do love my job with a passion. It’s given me a purpose and something I’ve always wanted to do. We have grown together too and that’s what I love.”

And Sean thrives from the support too. “I enjoy her coming round. We get on and her support means a lot to me. Without Hayley and the other people, I see now and again and her bosses at Strode Park it takes the pressure off my mum and dad as they don’t have as much to worry about.”

I leave them to finish the cooking and enjoy their culinary delights with Sean’s parents.

Hayley is part of our Home Care team and supported living service which promotes individuals' independence, well-being and choice through quality care and therapy services.

It’s available for anyone who has a disability (including children and older people) who require assistance to live in their own home or who need support to attend college or another community facility.