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60 Stories - Ella Johnson

Photo of Ella JohnsonElla Johnson
 
When it comes to the welfare and rights of her son, Ella Johnson has never been one to sit on the fence. For more than 50 years, she has fought to obtain the correct services for Ian. She has challenged authorities, spoken her mind and refused to give up, despite sometimes feeling as though it were a constant uphill struggle. 
 
Ella, of Airdrie, explained: “For a lot of people, I was the problem that just wouldn’t go away. There were times where I felt that Ian wasn’t getting the care he was entitled to and times when I felt that there was something wrong with the care that he was receiving. I just wouldn’t stand for it. At the end of the day, he’s my son and as a mum you have to fight for your child’s happiness, no matter how hard it might be.”
 
When Ian left school at the age of 19, Ella arranged for him to make the transition to a traditional occupational day centre, determined to ensure that he would continue to have the routine and stimulation he needed. He happily attended the centre for more than 30 years, favouring artistic activities such as pottery, hand crafts and wrought ironwork. 
 
But when the centre underwent changes Ella found that Ian’s needs were not being met and she noticed that he began to show signs of regression. 
 
“This was the time when personalisation was first introduced and people were given the opportunity to decide for themselves. I agreed with it in theory, but the approach at the centre was completely wrong for Ian and he wasn’t responding to the changes well. 
 
“It got to the stage where all the activities he enjoyed began to fizzle out because they said he wasn’t asking to do them. I walked into the centre one day and he was sitting in a room rocking back and forth in a chair. That was the breaking point for me. It wasn’t working for him and I wasn’t going to settle for that.” 
 
Concerned for Ian’s well-being, Ella made the bold decision that he would leave the day centre and began to make enquiries about obtaining a more appropriate service for him. She decided to approach ENABLE Scotland and states that since then, she has never looked back. 
 
“ENABLE Scotland’s service is 100% personal in all the right ways. If one approach isn’t working for someone, they try another until they get it right and that is exactly what was lacking at the centre. It took a good couple of years for Ian to really settle with his new carers, but they were patient and they took the time to really get to know him. That’s what he needed and it worked.” 
 
Ian has a team meeting with his ENABLE Scotland workers on a weekly basis where they plan out what he will do in the following week. Ella says he is now as comfortable with them as he is with her, looking upon them as his ‘friends’ which makes it easier for him to be open about what he wants.
 
As a result, he now enjoys a busy and fulfilled life, participating in a selection of his favourite weekly activities including swimming, a healthy living cookery class, pottery and a music group. But it is the way in which ENABLE Scotland has encouraged him to explore his natural skill for photography that has most delighted Ella. 
 
“Ian has loved photography all his life. I used to buy him and his brother, William, little cameras from Woolworths when they were children and I never knew what I was going to see when the spools were developed! His ENABLE Scotland workers really picked up on his passion for it and they were so impressed with his photos that they organised for an exhibition to be held at our local art centre.
 
“That was a very emotional and proud occasion for me and a huge achievement for Ian. He was as pleased as punch with himself, walking around the room and telling people where the pictures had been taken. He knew he had done something good and it was amazing to see him smiling and looking so happy.”
 
Since he left the day care centre, the transformation in Ian, who is now aged 55, was so noticeable, that Ella says he is like a ‘new man’ and that people out-with the family have begun to comment on his growing confidence.
 
“We always knew that Ian had a fantastic sense of humour and that he could be chatty when he was in company he felt comfortable in, but now other people are seeing that too and they are commenting on how much he has changed. He used to keep that side of himself hidden away because he was shy but now he’s opened right up and he’s able to be himself more often.”
 
At the age of 81, Ella is now quietly confident that her life-long battle to secure the right care for Ian is over. There is no doubt that he has come a long way in the last few years, but she also feels that she has gained something she has never known before - peace of mind. 
 
“I’ve often worried about how things will be for Ian if I’m not there. It’s hard to let go as a mum because you know your child’s needs better than anyone, but I finally feel that I can relax and believe that he will be happy and well looked after. 
 
“That’s because I know that the people who are caring for him will do their best to make sure that he is listened to and that whatever becomes of his life, it will be what he chooses it to be.”

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