Kirsty, a Grace Eyre Support Worker, and Sandra, a person supported by Grace Eyre, get along well, but it took lots of time and patience for Sandra to trust Kirsty enough to help her manage housework and laundry.

In fact, when Kirsty and Sandra first met, Sandra wouldn’t even allow support workers to enter her flat. Instead, the two would spend all their support time together out in the community.

It took several months of spending time together before Sandra began to trust Kirsty. They started by chatting about the meals they cook, home organising and housework. They also bonded over Sandra’s beloved cat, Tiggy.

Kirsty said:

“It was very clear when I first met Sandra that I needed to show respect for Tiggy. We visited pet stores together to buy supplies for him and I showed her pictures of my own animals.”

Sandra making cupcakes.

As Sandra’s trust in Kirsty grew, she would allow her in her flat for a few minutes at a time. First, it was just in the living room where they played with Tiggy and his toys. However, Sandra gradually let Kirsty go into other rooms and to help with the occasional household chore.

Each week, Kirsty would offer a little extra help in a different area. After a few months, Sandra allowed Kirsty into her bedroom where Kirsty noticed an issue with hoarding.

Kirsty said:

“Sandra only slept there and had limited access points to the unmade bed. She was not keen on me helping her with bedding at first. The floor was almost totally covered with piles of dirty laundry.”

It turned out that Sandra’s washing machine had broken, and she couldn’t replace it. Sandra had also become negative about the whole ordeal and wouldn’t allow Kirsty to investigate it. Instead, Sandra developed a habit of buying new clothes to wear daily and piling up the soiled ones.

Kirsty said:

“I slowly started introducing Sandra to the idea of a launderette and the benefits of having clean clothes that could be reused. It took us a while to find a launderette that suited, but eventually we found one where she feels secure.”

When they are at the launderette, Kirsty always asks Sandra to choose the machines she would like to use, which helps her feel in control. Sandra loads the coins in herself and presses the buttons to get the machines started. On all the early visits to the launderette, Kirsty explained each step of the process, demonstrating each action until eventually Sandra started doing it on her own.

Sandra cooking dinner.

However, it wasn’t always clear sailing. There were weeks in the beginning where Sandra would sometimes ask to stay home. Unless there was a genuine reason, Kirsty always encouraged her to go. This has helped to create a routine Sandra now enjoys. She often she praises herself now on how well she is doing with her washing.

As the months passed and the two made their way through the backlog, Sandra’s confidence increased. She asked Kirsty to help sort through some of the clothing, even bravely donating and discarding some. She showed pride in her clothing.

They also worked together to find ways of organising and storing the clothes. Sandra chose storage boxes. At the launderette, she now folds her washing into the bag to take home, then asks Kirsty to place them neatly in the boxes she had chosen.

As she has been visiting the same launderette for a while now, Sandra has become familiar with it. She walks ahead and opens the door of the machine. She often engages in small conversation with regular people she sees there. Sandra sees visiting the launderette as a solid part of her routine that she enjoys and feels proud of.

Kirsty said:

“Showing kindness, compassion, being non-judgmental and allowing time is always at the forefront when trying new things with Sandra. Hopefully, we can continue this part of our support routine well into the future!”

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