Connect with us
  • Elysium

Brain injury case management

Full steam ahead for George and his goals



In looking for new ways to develop skills and try different things, George became a steam train driver for a day. Here, his case manager Suzanne Dickinson, from ILS Case Management, discusses how the opportunity enabled George to exceed expectations and gain new levels of confidence


Suzanne Dickinson

When reviewing goals with my client George, we were chatting about things he might like to aim to achieve, experience or consider for the future. He enjoys routine and therefore requires support to enable him in consider trying new activities.

George is a young man who acquired a brain injury shortly after birth. He has a heart condition, learning disabilities, autistic tendencies, and a history of well controlled epilepsy.

His main passions are his two dogs, his iPod and watching trains. So, I began to think about whether there might be some other opportunities George might enjoy and how best I could support him in developing new skills and experiences alongside his main interests.

After speaking to George and his mum, I put some feelers out regarding how George is when he is around trains, what he likes about them and other aspects he perhaps is not so keen on. This feedback got me wondering how he would feel about actually driving a steam train and if this might be possible.

Having done some research, I contacted South Devon Railway, who were keen to help. The first step was to accompany George and his support worker, Carla, to the Steam Railway to meet with Will, one of the team members. Will spent time with us all, chatting to us about the railway and taking us on a tour of the station. This was a great way of completing a joint risk assessment while giving George an insight into what it was like to see a steam railway in operation up close.

Will quickly established a rapport with George and having spoken with me first, he asked George if one day he would like to drive a train. George said that he would and became excited and animated at the prospect. His response was so immediate and genuine, it was obvious that this was something that he would really love to try!

The following day I was delighted when Will contacted me offering to create a bespoke package to accommodate George’s wish to drive one of the steam trains.

Over the next couple of months, Will and I worked together to devise a Steam Train Driver Experience Day, tailored to suit George. Will selected a driver and fireman who would support George and Carla on the day. We worked out timings, protective clothing requirements and agreed on his engine having 2 carriages to enable George to invite passengers of his choice.

So, on a sunny day in April, George spent the most fantastic day driving a steam train. He had a wonderful time, made all the more joyful by the fact that he was able to share it with his family and friends. Everybody was excited and very proud indeed knowing that the engine at the front of the train was being driven by George himself!

As his case manager, I was blown away by his ability to listen to instructions, learn all the new skills required and to attend to the tasks he was given, and the confidence he displayed.

These are things that I am not always able to easily assess with George on an average day, but when a new experience like this was presented to him, one that he was passionate about, he showed me exactly what he is capable of achieving and it was fantastic to see.