– Meet Drew –
This is Drew and he is proud to be the first permanent resident in the brand new nursing home in Belfast, Maryland Healthcare. Belfast-born Drew, (full name Andrew Johansson MBE) was living his dream, having joined the Royal Navy at the age of 15. He served on aircraft carriers and travelled the world. He then progressed to become a deep-sea diver and sonar operator on nuclear submarines.
Tragically, in May 1975 at the age of 22, Drew was involved in a serious road traffic accident in England, which left him in a coma for five months. He suffered a serious brain injury which left him almost blind and unable to walk or talk. After over a year of rehabilitation Drew was allowed to come home to his family in Belfast. His recovery continued very slowly and he learned to speak and to walk a little again. He began charity work, collecting used postage stamps for The Guide Dog Association. Indeed, he funded so many guide dogs that he was awarded the MBE! Drew’s family managed to care for him at home until his mother became too ill and elderly and in 1999 Drew moved into Ballymacoss House Care Home in Lisburn, where he was very happy. It was home from home and he made many good friends there. He also had great care from his day centre, The Rowan Centre in Lisburn. Unfortunately, in 2013 Drew suffered a huge blow. He was told that Ballymacoss House was closing and he would have to move into a different kind of home, that being supported living apartments. Drew and his friends were moved into supported living apartments in Lisburn in August 2016. However, this was not the right fit for Drew. There was now the
worry of finding a permanent home where Drew would never have to move from again, bearing in mind that there are not many places for people with brain injuries.
Then a miracle happened and Drew was offered a place in a brand new nursing home in Belfast – Maryland Healthcare. A difficult decision had to be made, was it wise to ask Drew to move again after only a year? The family visited Maryland twice while the building was in its final stages and were very impressed by what they saw.
They said: “There had been so much thought put into the design of the building. Each en suite bedroom is decorated in a different colour and to a very high standard. There are gardens for each wing, which will have different uses as desired by the residents. Animal therapy is considered to be extremely important and there are regular visits from a therapy pony and therapy dog, as well as the resident rabbit. Plans are afoot for additional therapy animals including guinea pigs and budgies.” The family went back to Drew and explained all the plans and he decided that absolutely he wanted to move to Maryland. They continued: “Drew moved into his new home in Maryland Healthcare on Wednesday 20th September 2017 and he absolutely loves it. He loves the visits from the therapy animals, taking part in arts and crafts and joining in the sing-a-long sessions. He has high praise for the food and is really enjoying all the freshly cooked meals. He has great relationships with all the staff and indeed proposes marriage to them all daily. As a family, we are very happy and relieved that Drew has now found his home for life in Maryland.”