Peer Support Project: Hear Us have been in dialogue with key members of, Croydon based, South London and Maudsley (SLaM) staff in order set up Linkwork Champions who are able to fast track main areas of concern and feed back to the Croydon Senior Operations Team in order to push forward changes/improvements in areas raised by service users.
Although only a year old, this has proven a great success, making positive changes within Croydon based services. As we know, there is always room for improvement but Hear Us Linkworkers have been given access to those who can truly make ‘changes happen’. On the back of this innovative work we have been nominated for the Community Partner award, within SLaM services, for which we have progressed to the final three and have been invited to an awards presentation night in London this October.
Jeanette Wallace House has been providing community services for over a year now and, although it is far from perfect, the comments and suggestions that Linkworkers have gained, from engaging with service users accessing the service, have been acted upon which shows a real determination to try to improve every person’s experience of the service. There is now going to be a radio and TV provided to help alleviate boredom whilst waiting for appointments.
In March this year we started Linkworking on the Gresham Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), which has been very well received by the service users based there. The staff have are welcoming to us and understand the benefits and importance to service users, and service providers, of having people with lived experience available to them.
Some of the main themes raised over the last year: Lack of access to leave off the wards
Leave off the ward, whether escorted or unescorted, and not enough time off the ward to access the garden/grounds and access back onto the ward by returning patients, as well as visitors, who often have to wait ages before being let in.
Both of these examples can cause stress, which could be avoided, and potentially prolongs a patients discharge from services which is far from suitable for service users or service providers.
Discharge planning should include referrals to services in the community, a suitable place to go, possibly a hostel/supported housing then onto independent living. One barrier to discharge appears to be having nowhere suitable to go. Patients are less likely to relapse with suitable support after discharge. Assistance to see the future gives a boost to confidence and reduces fear and anxiety leading up to leaving the ward.
It can be very unsettling for the patients and service users when staff move on and can be a trying time for some, but with support to understand why this happens does help a little. They build a relationship of trust and have spoken about very sensitive areas of their lives, often whilst still in crisis. We have been told when new staff are appointed; they often ask the person to discuss their situation so they can get a ‘real feel’ for what support they need from them. This takes people to uncomfortable places and forces them to relive distressing and painful experiences.
In the last couple of months, there has been an increase in positive feedback from patients about nurses, as this was always an issue on several wards prior; this is good to read.
Occupational Therapy and Activity Provisions, especially during the weekend – when the games cupboard is locked and not accessible to patients and very little options are made available, patients get bored and restless which can leave them rustrated/angry and impacts upon their recovery.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in making the Linkworking project such a success, this includes all the Linkworkers and Champions alike, those who are the unseen heroes keeping the data flowing to enable the reports to exist and those within SLaM who understand the invaluable contribution service users give to services.
If you are interested in becoming a Linkworker please contact: