Why our day support is changing: Emily’s story

Sometimes, it can be hard to understand why a person acts the way they do, and even harder to figure out what to do about it.

And sometimes, with hindsight, it’s all pretty obvious. Emily is a case in point.

Emily spent her time in an electric wheelchair when she attended a day centre – she would transfer herself from one chair to another, but that was it – at least at the day centre. Yet at home, Emily would walk from room to room.

Emily put on weight the more she was in her electric chair, so mum got Emily a chair where she had to wheel herself, and although this was a great arm workout, her legs still stayed in the chair.

Why would Emily walk at home but not at the day centre?

Now, over the past year or so Discovery has been changing the way we support people like Emily.

In the past, Emily and others would attend a traditional day centre, doing whatever was laid on for the day, at predetermined times and always with the same people.

Not any more.

In future, our ‘day’ (but it could be delivered at weekends, or in the evenings) support will be built around the person: their wants, needs and ambitions. It won’t be delivered in a dedicated, segregated building.

For those reasons we’ve got a new name for it: Community Outreach.

Emily Chidgey

In Emily’s case, she became able to choose the day she wanted. She gained control over her life. And like so many other people, she told us she wanted to get her nails done, go bowling, have a Costa. Normal stuff.

And guess what? Once Emily could shape the day she wanted, she found her mojo. She got out of that chair and walked again. With hindsight, she was no longer bored.

See Emily walk her walk in the 10 second video clip below:

Emily has lost weight and grown in confidence and happiness over the past six months, amazing her friends. Emily is now asking to walk a lot more; she’s even managed a 20 minute walk!

Emily is over the moon at how much she can walk now, because it means she can finally access things other people take for granted, making her bucket list – from pedicures to parachuting – a lot easier!

Day services have been around for decades and yes, there are some critics of converting to a modern community outreach model. But Emily for one wouldn’t have it any other way.


Six weeks on see the start of what is possible for Emily now she is walking:

See Emily talk her walk in the 3 minute video below:

We are proud of Emily and her Community Outreach team 

See more about Community Outreach here.

If you are a business in Somerset that would like to make your service autism and learning disability-friendly The Discovery Community Fund could help you pay for adaptations, training and other things your business might need to become truly accessible to the whole community. The fund is open to all types of organisations, right across the county. Find out more here.

Finally, if, like the support worker in the video you want to help people with learning disabilities and autistic people across Somerset to get more from life, you can get started here.

The Dimensions group (which Discovery is a part of) has been officially accredited as one of the UK’s Best Workplaces by the Great Place to Work Institute for two years running. Additionally, this year, we received a “Wellbeing” award.