Trina Bright Celebrates 35 Years of Service

35 years of supporting people to lead great lives

Today we feature Trina Bright, Discovery’s Head of Coaching and Practice Support. Trina has dedicated the past 35 years to supporting people with learning disabilities and people with autism.

If you’re suffering knockbacks at school; if those around you are saying ‘you can’t…’; if you keep getting turned away from jobs you want – we hope Trina’s story helps you believe in yourself. Because just like her, you can find success:

“I wanted to be a social worker, but a teacher told me I wasn’t clever enough. So I decided to become a hairdresser, again he said I wouldn’t get in, but I did. So initially, I was a hairdresser; in fact, I did the hair of some of the people we support!

I wanted more, so I applied to Somerset County Council when Care in the Community happened in the early 80s and came away feeling so small, again.

Handwritten applications took aeons back then, and when the day came to post a second application I found myself putting it in a bin instead of the post box.

I was so scared about not knowing what to do, or having anybody to ask.

There are still days when I don’t know what to do, but now I know there are always friendly people around to ask for help.

– Trina Bright, Head of Coaching and Practice Support, Discovery.

Early days

It was 18th May 1987 when Trina started working for Dimensions, helping three people leave a long-stay hospital in her first year, and another the next. We still support two of these individuals to this day! Trina says,

“Who I am now, both personally and professionally, was shaped by that small group of people we support and their families. I learned so much from working alongside them.

It profoundly impacted me and today, as we mark 11 years since Panorama’s revelations of the abuse at Winterbourne View, I’m more determined than ever to support more people to live better lives in their local communities.”

Person-Centred Planning

Trina became a pioneer for person-centred planning, rolling out models that still sit at the heart of our support across Bath and North East Somerset:

“One lady found it incredibly difficult to be at the meetings, so instead, we made sure she was 100% at the centre of all our discussions and that her family were fully involved. The day service struggled to support her and the psychiatrist said she was the most complex person he had worked with. She wasn’t. You just needed to be really clear about how you supported her.

Person-centred planning improved communication and relationships and the more we worked together, the better it got.

One of the planning tools asks “What would this lady’s dream be?”

We all agreed that if money were no object, she’d live in her own home, with her own bespoke staff, and through the planning process, we got it, including what was at the time, a ground-breaking shared ownership. Her anxiety became far more controlled; she really flourished.”

High points

One of my proudest moments was the tenth anniversary of some of the people we support living in their home.

Just before they moved in, the neighbours put up a fence for safety. They had young children, and understandably they didn’t know what to expect. But on the tenth anniversary, the husband made a speech and said, “We had the worst scenarios in our head. But you’ve been the best neighbours we’ve ever had.”

Low points

It’s always challenging when a person we support is poorly or passes away, but I’m proud that we support someone in death as in life – with care, respect and in a person-centred way.

Odd points

I’ve had unique experiences, like driving a minibus to Euro Disney to support some people to have a holiday; before that, the furthest I’d driven was to Cornwall! And that was only the weekend before! – And there was no SatNav back in those days!

New points

We’re currently introducing a lot of assistive technology; only today I saw how Multimedia is being used to help a person we support to talk to us about his review. Assisted tech helps person-centred planning greatly; things are coming on leaps and bounds.

Shaping our culture

Now Trina is in a more senior role she can make a wider contribution to Discovery’s culture. So Trina, what matters to you?

“The way we work with families, and seeing the people we support progress to where they want to be, is what inspires me. We are a solutions-focused organisation, and that’s what transforms things. It means we can each make a difference. We don’t let ourselves get floored by difficulties – we find a way.

Personally I have always been listened to, and if I have something I think will help, I know I’ll have the support to make it work. I want all Discovery’s managers and support teams to listen to those around them.

And let’s not forget our five values of courage, partnership, integrity, respect and ambition. I see them enacted daily. If you can follow those values in your Discovery career, you’ll never go far wrong.

Finally, I’ve had some great role models who have inspired me, many different line managers, and equally some fantastic people who don’t want to go into management but provide outstanding person-centred support, and we need to celebrate them.”

Are you inspired to follow in Trina’s footsteps?

You don’t need to worry about nasty old teachers or carefully crafted hours of handwritten applications ending up in bins instead of postboxes.

Instead, try our fun, fact-filled quiz here to instantly see if you’d make a great Discovery support worker!

Discovery has been independently rated a ‘Great Place to Work’ by the Great Places to Work Institute as part of Dimensions. Additionally, this year we received a ‘Wellbeing’ award.