Inseparable: one man and his incredible carer

Inseparable: one man and his incredible carer
Posted on Mon 4 Feb 2019

by Miri Hess, guest writer, LA, California, USA

It’s midday in Southern California and fun-loving Andrew Boyle, late twenties, wears a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt. Hired as carer to Jay Thomas, mid-forties, who lives with cerebral palsy (CP), their relationship is stronger than just employer and employee. These two friends are like brothers, they take care of each other.

Jay’s mum, Jill Hallett, early seventies, agrees they have a strong connection, which she refers to as a blessing.

“It’s a brotherhood where Andrew just gets ‘it’ whatever ‘it’ is,” Jill says. “That makes Andrew our family. They truly love each other. I feel Jay means just as much to Andrew, as Andrew does to us.”

 

Sports and play

Five days a week, eight-hour days, it’s the two of them, along with Jay’s spirit, Andrew’s empathy, and their mutual love of sports, it’s never a dull day.

While Jay is basically limited to the use of his head and neck and unable to use his arms and legs in the conventional sense, the two friends have fun, play basketball in a league, surfing, and also alpine skiing with Disabled Sports USA, where Jay sits in a bi-ski – a sit ski with two blades gliding against the snow.

“He is doing as much as he can with someone else’s help. But he’s still doing it,” Andrew says. “For Jay, I try to find the activities he is interested in and involve him, rather than just doing things for him.”

Fun and play is a big part of all their interactions and it makes the daily routines more interesting. As Andrew helps Jay to shave, Jay mimics the quail. This bird, known for its adaptability, draws a parallel between the six-foot-tall Andrew helping Jay to eat by acting as his “feeder”. He scoops and cuts, bringing a filled fork to Jay’s mouth, to avoid towering over him.

 

What the friends think

When his friends ask him what he really does, Andrew laughs. They know he takes care of Jay, but they don’t know all of what is involved.

“People that aren’t too shy ask, ‘so do you really have to take care of him, take care of him?’ Like, make sure I change his diaper and give him showers? Yeah, someone has got to do it, right?!”  

It’s been five years with Andrew as Jay’s carer. Andrew aims to treat Jay as he would anyone else; he views Jay’s mannerisms and needs as regular human traits, not as inabilities.

 

What keeps Andrew motivated with his work?

When Andrew was 12, he attended Scottish Fest USA in Southern California with his grandfather. Andrew helped his grandfather, who was wheelchair bound, to use a dilapidated public restroom.

“It made me realise if I were in this situation, I would want someone to help me,” Andrew recalls. “That specific event was a life changing, growing up point.”

 “I think Jay knows me better than anyone else in life,” Andrew says. “I live with my girlfriend, but I still think he probably knows me better than she does. We just get each other. That’s what makes it so easy to stay with him. We have the best time, all the time. We are pretty inseparable.”

 

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