Health scare brings new skills for Sarah - Avenues Group
30 - 1993-2023

Health scare brings new skills for Sarah

Tuesday 30th of May 2023

The people we work with count on their support teams. They give them confidence to live their lives knowing that someone is always looking out for them, making sure they are safe and cared for.

But everyday events can reveal unmet needs, and bring new anxieties. In Sarah’s case, it was realising she lacked the skills she wanted to make a difference for others who needed help and care.

When Sarah’s support worker, Aminata, suddenly fell ill while working with her, it had a significant psychological impact on her.

Aminata said: “We were at Sarah’s flat when suddenly I felt really poorly. My heart was beating really hard for no reason – I was worried I was having a heart attack.

“Sarah was brilliant – we called 999 for an ambulance, but they actually sent the fire brigade out first as they were closer and are now trained similarly to paramedics to treat people.”

Aminata was taken to hospital where fortunately doctors soon gave her the all clear, but the effect of the event on Sarah was obvious the next day.

Service Manager Debbie Taylor had taken over Sarah’s support while Aminata was at hospital: “It became clear Sarah was very upset and unsettled about what had happened, despite having done so well at the time.

“The people we support can develop a very close emotional connection to their team, so some distress in situations like this is totally natural.

“But we still talked and listened. Firstly because it’s an important thing to do after a traumatic event, but also so we could understand if there was something more going on for Sarah.

“She said she realised that she didn’t know all she wanted to know about first aid, and how to help people. She said she wanted to be able to do this, and what would help was first aid training.

“It’s not something we’ve done before, so I spoke to our Positive Behaviour Support Lead, Sarah Kean, to see if we could do something with them to help. We recognised that the full employee training may have been too much for Sarah, but that a ‘light’ version could work really well.”

They got together with the Learning and Development (L&D) team to discuss a session for Sarah, covering basic life support and other key first aid principles.

Sarah has now had her training with L&D partner Day Wells, and says she feels like she has the knowledge, skills and confidence she wants.

“It was great to find out all about it”, Sarah said, “It was really funny because there was this rubber dummy that looked like a dead body! But I learnt how to make sure people are safe and comfortable and also do things like check their airway and pump their chest if I need to. Day was great and made it fun!”

Avenues South East Regional Director, Kevin Hulls, said: “Over time we all build skills to cope with life’s challenges, and people we support must have the chance to develop their self-confidence too.

“For Sarah, this goes beyond her own growth and is about contribution. Caring for others is a big part of a ‘normal’ life, and we know having the opportunity to do this can be really important to many people we support.

“Sarah and Aminata’s story shows what we can achieve when we really listen to people, and are committed to finding ways to understand and meet their needs as individuals.”

Sarah with Aminata