Being Brave with Niels at Vernon Close - FitzRoy

Being Brave with Niels at Vernon Close

Published: February 10, 2023

Niels lives at Vernon Close, our supported living service in Uckfield. Over the last few years, patience and persistence have seen his confidence grow allowing him to try new things and reduce his anxiety.

Area manager, Dean, said “Niels has always been quite a loner. He’s quite happy in his own company and would quite happily sit in his lounge all day long, but since we’ve built our new staff team over the last 12 months, they’ve been more proactive engaging him in conversation and in group activities but now he will actively seek that engagement and want to be around people and staff.”

Service manager Emily said “The staff team have been extremely patient, really understood his needs but it’s not been an overnight thing. It’s been a long term slow and gradual.

“In the past there’s been a history of ‘we tried that and it didn’t work so we’re not doing it again’ rather than having the patience and the perseverance and thinking of a different approach, looking at what didn’t work and what can we do to achieve the same outcome but get to it in a slightly different way”

Ian, senior support worker, said “Even a few months ago, Niels wouldn’t even go out for a walk and to get him out of the front door was quite an epic time.

“Recently, we’ve been able to take more walks together in to town and visit new places. It takes a while to build up the confidence to go inside and we talk a lot about it before he has the confidence to actually cross the line.

“There’s a pub we walk past most days and Niels would talk about going for a meal but each time I suggested it or we got close to the door he’d say ‘no no’ but then last week he mentioned it again so when we went passed I ask him again if he wanted to go in and to my surprise he said ‘yes yes’.

He was amazing and coped brilliantly with everything. He had a pie and was so relaxed we even stayed for a brownie. He had an absolute blast and when we left said ‘happy pub’. He was in such a great mood when we came out he was pulling funny faces at the cars. I’m so proud of Niels, and days like today is what makes me absolutely love my job.

Dean said “Ian’s been brilliant and so has Phil who also works with Niels. Building that trusting relationship to get him to go and try new things, but it being Niels’s idea to do it. Planting the seeds and taking him past these places and showing them to him on numerous occasions. This slow approach has helped his anxieties reduce enough to be able to go and achieve the things that he really wants to do. He didn’t have the confidence to do it previously.”

Ian said “Over the 18 years he’s lived here, he has gone through spells of being more active and with less anxiety. For example, he used to go on the bus quite frequently over to Brighton, but then he stopped doing that and it could be any little thing that would trigger him.

“His confidence is now getting up to the level that he’s bringing up the bus and suggesting it again so one of our big goals is to hopefully go on a bus trip with him by the summer.

“Shorter term we want him to go to lunch himself a few more times and then to go out with his housemates Lulu or Mark. For a lot of people that might just seem like no big deal but for Niels, as soon as you introduce more people into the mix, that’s where the anxiety does get a bit much and it would be a big step for him.”