Scott and Hayley speak about their return to work

Scott Pearshouse suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury at the age of 27 after falling 40ft. His family were told that if he survived, he would be in an inpatient facility for at least two years.

Scott's wife, Hayley, was 23 and progressing in her first job as a visual merchandiser for The Arcadia Group after finishing university when she gave up work to care for Scott.

Scott, a married dad-of-one, now 40, made a miraculous recovery after his brain injury.

But just as he was about to return to work after a year of rehab, he was made redundant from his job in construction as an electrical engineer.

“When it came to accepting what work had in store for me, I found life difficult to comprehend and couldn’t accept a different me. I applied for jobs but getting a role wasn’t the hard part; keeping the job while my brain was still recovering was. 

“I didn’t tell anyone about my brain injury. I couldn’t let anybody know what I'd been through because I wanted to progress in this world and I didn't want them to look at me and think of me any differently.

“I changed careers a few times, leaned on old contacts and landed a job I was able to hold down for a short time.

“I remember I was given a maths assessment after my injury and I kind of breezed through and I thought, wow, that was easier than I expected and based on my previous experience, I should probably look to be a quantity surveyor.

“Not accepting what the past had said about TBI survivors, I decided to study part-time for a Quantity Surveying degree in 2013 while still trying to maintain employment. I completed my degree and achieved a 2:1 grading in 2016.

The highlight for me was holding down employment and gaining sponsoring for the university fees, along with a first-class honour for my dissertation. I also studied for my RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Chartership and in 2019 I achieved professional membership status first time round. 

“I previously hadn't told anyone within work about the injury and I had really hidden it in case it was seen it as a negative. But I shared my story on LinkedIn in December, and it has been the catalyst for change.

“I've had such positive feedback from the LinkedIn community, I really wasn't expecting it. I am now a mental health ambassador for LionHeart, which provide support to RICS professions and their families who may be going through bad times.

“My journey since the dark days of 2011 has been incredible. After everything I’ve been through and achieved, I'm now talking to you guys and I have just been part of a panel talking about mental health for RICS.

“The message in my current workplace is ‘people before profit’ and I find this so refreshing in my line of work. In the short time I’ve been there and with their support, they are helping me to thrive.”


Hayley's return to work story:

The couple, who live in the Midlands, have daughter Penelope, age two-and-a-half. Hayley, now 37, returned to work in a temporary role as an assistant, and is now the senior lighting buyer for Sainsbury’s, Habitat and Argos.

 “I was at the stage when I was thinking, should we move to London so I can try to get into the buying world. Then Scott had his accident.

“Obviously it just threw everything up in the air because he was in hospital for so long. My work was really supportive and I changed my hours so I started at 6am and finished about 1pm.

“Scott was in hospital for 17 weeks and I'd spend all day and night with Scott because he was really poorly.

“The hospital was happy because if I was there, they didn't need a nurse because he had to have 24-hour care. It was obviously quite intense because I'd already done a day at work, almost.

“Then Scott moved into a living facility with strict, limited visiting hours. I hated it and Scott would just beg me not to leave him. He recovered at such a rate that they said because he was so unhappy there, they said he could come home. But he'd need care at home.

“So, I literally left that day and handed my notice in. I was just like, it's fine, we'll figure it out. Scott was still receiving sick pay.

“My dad had been a carer and he said to me, you're so young. I know you love him, but do you want to be a carer? I said no, I don't. But I love him and no one else is going to do that job as well as me.

“We were just living this life that neither of us knew how long it was going to last for or what we were going to do for money, long term. The visitors got less and less and people assumed because he was home he was well. We were in our own little bubble.

“I went back to work after a year. That year was a big time in our lives. It was when Scott decided he was ready to go back to work and started taking jobs.

“I took a maternity cover role as an assistant for a buying team and they asked me about the gap in my CV. I said I'd taken a year off to care for my partner and he'd just recently gone back to work and they understood.

“I was obviously a little bit older than a lot of the assistants there and I was really trying to make a good impression.

“But I was also dealing with quite a lot with Scott at home and he was he was still ill. He was going back to work, finding it all really tough and he wasn't telling them that he was unwell.

“He was leaning on me for support, and I was trying to build my career because in my head I was thinking if this doesn't work out for Scott and he realistically can't hold down a job, I need to get us a good job so that I can support us.

“It's been a tough 13 years of supporting Scott through his mental health battles, work and studies but we've always tackled things together. I had to believe that what Scott set out to achieve was possible because he believed it and he needed that support.

“If it hadn't have worked out, we would have dealt with it together, as let's face it, we'd been through worse.

“But today, we’re happy and I am super proud of him. Scott is now really enjoying his career. And I absolutely love what I do. I've just worked my way up.”


Scott's return to work story identifies some of the challenges experienced by survivors, and their loved ones, when trying to return to work. Help us support people who face barriers to work with finding sustainable employment.

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