“Your turn”: how one social worker faced her fear to help a service user

Advanced care practitioner Heather Fuller reveals how she went diving in an attempt to win the trust of Mark, a motor neurone sufferer

heather fuller
Heather Fuller facing her fears to help a service user

By Heather Fuller

Mark was very active – a 56-year-old ex-soldier – and he struggled immensely when he began to succumb to the effects of his degenerative condition, motor neurone disease.

As someone used to dealing with his problems head on, by getting up and physically doing something about them, losing his mobility was terrifying him.

He needed to get used to using a hoist as his mobility degenerated, but he tried it and hated it. After that he was unwilling to engage in exercises that would get him used to being hoisted. With someone like Mark, creative tactics were needed to persuade him to co-operate.

While working with him, I confided in him that I had a fear of deep water that I wanted to overcome so I could go diving with my husband.

This prompted Mark, who’s always a man of his word, to make a deal with me: I had to face my fear of deep water and he would face his fear of losing control and being hoisted.

I was as good as my word. I’ve now built a good relationship with Mark and I know that, having kept my side of the deal, he trusts me.

Next time I see him, I know he’ll be ready to give the hoist another go.

I’ve faced my deep water fears, Mark – now it’s your turn.

Heather Fuller is an advanced care practitioner for focus, the Grimsby-based independent social work practice

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