Gair was a very active child. He used to climb the fence and wander off, and he’d usually head towards the beach. This was a problem because there were so many beaches near home.
There were vacancies at Mangere Hospital at the time and Gair was offered a vacancy, though Gair’s mother didn’t accept it for quite a few years.
Gair went to Mangere in 1961 at around 11 years of age.
It took Gair a while to settle at Mangere Hospital. When his father picked him up and brought him home for a long weekend, he didn’t want to leave. I used to send Gair’s Mum a cake back with him and that was one thing that persuaded him to go.
After a few years at Mangere, where he’d been quite settled, Gair was transferred to St John’s.
Unfortunately, the staff at Mangere and St John’s didn’t take the time to teach Gair much. He didn’t make friends in those places. While at St John’s, however, Gair went to a National Special Olympics competition in New Plymouth and got a gold medal.
In 1991 or 1992, after two or three years at St John’s, Gair went to live at Relko – a community home within Spectrum Care. He lives there with four flatmates.
Relko was one of the first houses in the community for people with disabilities. It was a big change and it helped Gair so much.
Relko is close to Gair’s family home – he and the staff often walk there. Sometimes he and his flatmates (and a staff member) would walk to Gair’s mother’s house, which is nearby for morning tea and then walk to Long Bay.
Gair is much more independent now. He wasn’t particularly tidy when he lived at home, but he’s more grown up now. He can do most things and he’s a lot happier. Gair has all these old records and tapes he plays when he comes home on a Monday and now he’s got a CD (player) and he’s happy to play that when he’s home.
At Relko, they all have their own individual birthday parties and make it special. Gair also has a lady friend that he meets down at ‘Move and Groove’ – a disco on a Wednesday morning, put on by the Kumeu Church.
Gair is happy living in the community and that makes his mother’s life easier. He has a great personality and gets on well with his flatmates. He has his routines and makes his own choices, and it is good that he lives so close to his Mum. They keep in contact each week and she feels that Gair has a good lifestyle and is well supported by the staff.
Excerpt from “Extraordinary Journeys – 12 extraordinary people retrace their journeys from institutional care to supported community living…”
Limited numbers of Extraordinary Journeys are available for $20 (+GST).
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© Spectrum Care Trust Board
Published by Spectrum Care Trust Board