Monday, 17 March 2014

Story Three - Privacy

There were some house rules in the Unit that made having private time very difficult.

There was an official rule that visitors weren't allowed in the "resident's" bedroom. And an unofficial one that "residents" were discouraged from going into their bedrooms during the day.

That played havoc with visiting times.

Ever since Steven was 11, we have always done a C90 compilation tape on a Saturday afternoon. It used to be preparation for the week ahead - he would listen to his Walkman at breaktimes to help him manage the anxiety of that unfilled space. Since leaving school, we have continued with the tape and Steven listens to it back on a Sunday morning before swimming.

So I would turn up at the Unit at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon with the tape all prepared and we had a choice of going into the main communal living room or the dining room. Steven chose the dining room as it was slightly more private. I think he also quite liked the time alone with me so he could chat about all the things he would normally chat about at home during a tape session (What colour trousers Gary Barlow wears in Patience, Why it's not a good idea for Tommo to play his saxophone underwater in It Must Be Love. Why Boy George is in urgent need of a plaster in Bow Down Mister).

It was impossible. Staff would be in and out getting things from the freezer or the overflow filing cabinets. Other service users would pop in to join in with Hey Jude. And the more that people came in, the more agitated Steven became. Once he kicked another service user who came in for a bop during Witch Doctor and that was immediately logged as another "unexplained" incident of challenging behaviour. I just became frozen. Trying to give Steven a good time but constantly tense about how our interactions were being recorded.

Two hours later it was time to leave. I'd get the bus home, go to the Slug & Lettuce and get pissed and have a good cry.

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