Finding new ways for Lawrie to do the things he loves - FitzRoy
Man wearing navy blue jacket stood by a raised garden bed holding a trowel and smiling for the camera

Finding new ways for Lawrie to do the things he loves

Published: April 19, 2024

Lawrie, who’s lived in one of our registered care homes in Norfolk for over 20 years, used to enjoy going to a local charity to work on their farm. Lawrie is autistic and he has a mild learning disability, as well as a mental health condition. Routine is important to him and he enjoyed the physical activity of gardening and working on the farm. However, at the beginning of last year Lawrie’s mental health deteriorated and he was becoming increasingly distressed, sometimes leading to aggressive behaviour, and his trips to the farm were no longer possible.

Service manager Trevor explains: “Knowing how much Lawrie had enjoyed the hands-on element of gardening and working on the farm, we were determined to find ways to replicate this for him. The team have been exploring local opportunities and came up with some great ways he can carry on with his gardening. He’s helping out with the garden here, with the most recent project being some raised beds where Lawrie has just planted potatoes. We’ve also found other ways he can get involved in the community. He’s been helping out at a local allotment and he is cutting the grass for a local Scout group, crossing a job off their maintenance list.”

Another task that Lawrie had found really rewarding at the farm was sawing up pallets for kindling. Trevor says: “Finding a way – and a suitable location – to replicate the pallet activity was more challenging, but we were determined to work something out as we know how much Lawrie enjoys it and finds it helpful. One of Lawrie’s support workers was driving back from an outing one day and spotted a pile of pallets in the yard outside a local business. They stopped off and he went in to have a chat with the staff and asked what they were doing with the pallets. Now, the pallets are taken away for Lawrie to saw them up into kindling, which then goes back to the company to be handed out to their staff.”

Together with changes in his medication to support his mental health, finding ways to replicate these activities has made a huge positive difference for Lawrie. Trevor explains: “At the beginning of last year, Lawrie was struggling with his mental health, and getting distressed, leading to frustration and aggressive behaviour, but now 12 months on, he is back to his usual self. He still gets a little agitated occasionally, just as we all can do, but this is happening much less often. When you stop and think about it, it’s a huge transformation.”

Area manager Hannah says:

I’m so proud of what the team have achieved for Lawrie – thanks to their determination and recognition of the things that really matter to him, he’s so much happier in himself and his quality of life has improved hugely. Their persistence and inventiveness in finding other ways for him to do the activities that he enjoys is such a brilliant example of the FitzRoy values of seeing the person and being brave and creative.