back view of a woman we support and two support workers sat on a bench overlooking a canal

Are you interested in what makes people tick?

Are you interested in what makes people tick, and what makes…

Friendship! 

It can be tricky at times, especially when you have lockdown and learning disabilities. 

This story is about how three friends have gone through it all together, even when it seemed like they wouldn’t… 

Anna, Belle, and Clara (not their real names) live together, and appreciate each other. Often, they sit down for a cuppa, crochet, and a chat, or go to dinner date or disco.  

So, let’s get to know each one a bit better: 

Anna is the extra anxious, timid one. She has dementia too, so she gets very unsure and confused. 

Belle is bold and directive, she gets impatient and frustrated with Anna (especially if she’s had too much caffeine). 

Clara prides herself on being the caring one, and often tries to comfort Anna, causing further confusion for her.  

What would you do in this situation? 

A person we support walking along the river with a support worker

Would it occur to you that two might be company, and three a crowd?

It did to the team, who began occupying one to let the other two do something together instead. Success! No bickering in the house!  

Until something unexpected happened: Lockdown.  

So, it became almost impossible to:  

  1. Take one of the friends out of the picture. 
  1. Go out together. 
  1. Get space. 

All three shut themselves in their rooms, often shouting through the walls 

Now, what would you do? 

It is sadly safe to say, lockdown increased the drama triangle. 

“As it did with everybody”

-the manager

“Being stuck together 24 hours a day, tolerance levels diminish. It is a shame. They appreciate having someone to go to lunch with and look out for. Lockdown meant they did not have enough to keep them busy, they got fed up with each other, and it all became a bit too much. We had times when we had to isolate, and it was extremely hard for one of the ladies to come back out. She just wanted to stay in her room.” 

So, when the restrictions lifted, everybody was keen to get things back to how they were: 

So, off the three friends went, back to their disco…and how did that go? 

Anne – started to get confused. 

Belle – had a bit too much caffeine and lost patience with Anne. 

Clara – tried to comfort Anne. 

Anne – got upset with Clara. 

So, what would you do again? 

The evening got cut short, and colleague came to the rescue as a knight in a shining Audi to take Anne out of the three-way dynamic on the way home. 

“I didn’t want that to be their memory of spending time together. So, we quickly found something to turn it around.”

the manager.

Instead of letting the previous experience put her off. Instead, she acted with ambition and courage for the three friends and found something:  

How about a theatre show? 

The team were reluctant, until one of the ladies caught wind of the show herself and started talking to the other two about it, all three raring to go…  

“Let’s make it a girl’s night out!” 

-the friends said

Raring yes, but were they ready?  

Now the team could see they wanted it, they got right behind them to get them ready. 

What had they learned? 

  1. Preoccupy one as much as possible. 
  1. Caffeine escalates the situation. 
  1. Having colleagues who know them well is key 
  1. Knowing how to redirect the conversation is vital. 
  1. Having the next thing for them to look forward to is crucial. 
  1. Clara likes to pick up a leaflet when she is out, which can be excellent for the point above. 

The team set to work and prepared: 

  1. A bag for Belle that had caffeine-free coke in it. 
  1. A leaflet already prepared in case there aren’t any about 
  1. An easy read for Belle and Celia on why and how Anna gets confused and how to help her. 
  1. Colleagues who know the friends well and how to redirect topics of conversation successfully. 

On the night, the conversation flowed, Clara picked up a flyer at the show, creating significant excitement between the three friends for their next step.  

No pre-prepared caffeine-free coke or leaflet needed! 

Phew! Sometimes, just being that prepared helps everyone relax.  

The night out was a remarkable success, and everything went back to how it was, well, not entirely; as the team discovered, there is no going back – thankfully. 

Now, the three friends are moving forward together through the team: 

  1. Developing the three friends’ people skills 
  1. Noticing and redirecting the triangle dynamics 
  1. Preparing in advance for future outings. 

They cook for each other, attend a new “Every Voice Matters” group and we can’t wait to see where they will be this time next year.

Are you interested in what makes people tick?

Do you know you can help others get more from life because you have a genuine interest in: 

1. People.

2. How to change dynamics and empower people. 

3. Making a positive difference every day. 

Then you can get to work by joining a 1000-strong team of Discovery colleagues doing that very thing across Somerset by getting started here 

Inspired to join us? The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) is one of the UK’s Great Places to Work, Best Workplaces for Wellbeing and Best Workplaces for Women – awarded by Great Places to Work (2022)