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Life After the Nursing Home


At the age of 21, Summer Foundation Ambassador James Nutt was living in a nursing home with little hope for his future. Over 13 years on, James reflects on how regaining his independence changed his outlook on life, and helped him find happiness.

My life post 13 September 2003 was another life. My dreams of joining the armed forces, getting married and having children seemed to be “Going, Going…Gone”.

A week or so after I turned 21 I was sent to a nursing home where I spent many a year with no intellectual gain or challenges. I wanted my life to be over. I could not see myself ever leaving the nursing home, and tried to end my life on a few occasions.

The first night as the door shut I thought, “That’s the door of my life closing.” It felt like so many things were now impossible.

I had to adjust significantly when I realised this was the rest of my life. I went to bed unable to sleep, thinking of what I would miss out on. I was scared of living another 60 or so years with old buggers, and no escape. It was like a prison with locked gates.

In November 2011 I was given my second chance at life when I left that prison and moved to Newcastle. I was given options like food, furniture and all the basic rights that anyone my age should have. Nobody stipulated what I had to do. I could do as I liked, go out when I liked. Ever since this day I said, “Adios muchacho” to the life I had been made to live for nearly seven years.

Brain injury has made me think differently about life and what is important as it’s made me take a step back and gauge everything in my immediate life and future. We can’t change yesterday, but we can change tomorrow.

This is what I go to bed thinking now; anything is possible. Yesterday is the past but tomorrow does Nutt yet exist. Even when life throws darkness your way for no obvious reason you can look ahead and see clear sky and sunshine. You realise that there is something you can do to give yourself a positive outlook from even the darkest holes. Life is what you make it and if you desire to make it good, it shall be that way.

Getting involved in the community via sporting and rotary clubs was an important step for me as it helped me feel like I was contributing to the community and my country. This helped me to find happiness again, as I felt like I could re-enter the community on a more even keel.

Today I live in shared supported accommodation where I have gained most of my independence back. We shouldn’t be totally reliant on others and neither should we have to be. Each and every week I strive to become more and more self-reliant. I will always hold the hope of becoming completely independent and live fully as I desire once again. Yes, I have a disability but the word disability also contains the word ability and we need to dis the dis from the word forever.

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