Trying something different…

Dawn is a lady that I have been supporting for the last two and a half years. Dawn is the kind of person who could pick you up when you’re down or give you a shoulder to cry on. She loves to help out when she can with cleaning or just looking after another person we support with cups of tea. Dawn has a wicked and cheeky sense of humour and a great smile but she has an even bigger heart.

Dawn is a person who lives by a routine. She might go to buy a CD, have a cup of tea or buy a keyring. This has been Dawn’s routine since I started working here. Doing something outside of her routine can be scary for Dawn. She can become very anxious when she is unsure of where she is going or what she doing when she goes out. Supporting Dawn out in the community can be tricky.

Trying to step away from the routine, I wanted to do something different with Dawn. Using person centre planning and reflection I tried to think of what we could do for the day that still involved Dawn getting a cup of tea or a keyring. I thought of what Dawn might enjoy that would not be too overwhelming for her. I thought about the wild life park down the road from us which Dawn’s mum and dad take her to. There is also a little café there where Dawn could get a cup of tea. I asked Dawn if she liked animals and if she wanted to go to the park. Dawn said ‘yes’ but also asked for a cup of tea which we agreed we would get after we saw the animals.

We got a taxi to the park where I repeated to Dawn what we were going to do for the day. At this point I got a little bit nervous about how Dawn was going to react when we got there. Dawn became nervous and a little anxious when we got there. I explained again what we were doing to Dawn to try and support Dawn with her anxiety. I didn’t want to give up and go home as I didn’t want Dawn to miss out on something that she would love. After a few minutes I managed to bring Dawn around. Dawn was less anxious about walking around the park.

As soon as Dawn saw the otters she smiled at me. Dawn walked around the park pointing at animals and naming every one of them. She was laughing and seemed to take a big interest in a pair of owls which she named mamma and daddy. Dawn was excited about which animal she would see next and didn’t mention a cup of tea or a keyring the whole way round. As we reached the end of the park and headed towards the café, Dawn pulled my hand back to see the owls again. The park was small but we ended up staying there for quite a while.

When Dawn decided that she wanted to leave, we went to buy a cup of tea. She had a huge smile on her face and was still laughing at the fact that she named one of animals after one of my co-workers (the animal was a wild boar). Dawn had put her faith in me to support her that day around the park. She was a bit anxious and nervous, but she came in anyway: she found the courage to take a step away from her routine. I will always remember that day whenever I feel anxious or nervous and know that if I find the courage to overcome my fear something amazing might happen.

Laura Thurston
Senior Support Worker
Cottage Farm


  • Tess Marshall says:

    Great story, Laura. What really struck me was how you overcame your own anxiety to encourage Dawn to try something new. It would have been easier for you also just to stick to the usual routine.

  • Emma Killick says:

    Thanks for sharing Laura this is a brilliant example of taking a chance and making a change – as Tess says sticking to the routine would have been an easy option for you as well as Dawn. Your relationship with Dawn and the planning you put in beforehand both paid off.
    If Dawn would like to send in a story about her trip to see the animals I’m sure The Mag Group would be pleased to hear from her.

  • Donald says:

    Like the blog Laura about taking Dawn to the park. Made me laugh when you wrote she name one of the boars after her staff. I think it would make a nice story for the mag if you could support Dawn to write something about it and email me 2 or 3 pictures of her day out.

  • Fay Walker says:

    What a lovely story, so inspiring! It sounds like you both had a good time and got a lot out of trying something new. Well done!

  • Jeremy Bugden says:

    Well done Laura and in particular Dawn! We all like an element of routine, some of us more so, but it takes boldness from the person supporting to try something different, knowing that someone could be anxious – and of course it takes courage from the person stepping away from their routine. It sounds like the story of the Boar with a new name now was a right hoot!

  • darren bowen says:

    Excellent story thanks for sharing.

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