Monday, 18 January 2016

Meet Mandy Pearce - Reablement Worker at Mid Powys Mind

In 2015 Mandy Pearce started as Mid Powys Mind’s new Reablement Worker, funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, in a new three year project to help support people in transition from hospital. 

Working originally with patients from Felindre Ward in Bronllys Hospital, South Powys (a ward offering acute inpatient mental health services) the Reablement Service offers much needed support to people coming home after a medium to long term hospital stay.

We caught up with Mandy recently at her Llandrindod base to find out more about the project has evolved since she started last summer.

What does reablement mean exactly?

The reablement approach is well known in physical health. It is newer in mental health. It is short intensive support, usually offered to people in their own homes, after a stay in hospital and during a period of ongoing recovery back in the community.

I have access to patients’ Care Plans, liaise with their Care Co-ordinators and also attend their discharge meetings. Once they have left hospital I then visit them and provide support depending on their needs. This can be very varied depending on individual situations. Two of my first clients had been long-term patients on the ward – one for 12 months. There was a lot of work to be done. People become quite institutionalised and it can be quite scary returning to the community. Even going to the corner shop can be hard.

Some people, meanwhile, are only in hospital for a couple of weeks and then quickly get back on track with their lives once they leave.

How does reablement make people’s lives better?

It provides additional support that hasn’t been there before. It’s about looking at people’s needs. Isolation is a key word really. The hospital reflects that sense of isolation back to the patients. They have been unwell at home for quite a long period, perhaps staying indoors, maybe even in bed. Then they go into hospital and are still quite isolated.

Originally I thought the role would involve carrying out practical tasks such as looking after a pet or going shopping. But people want to talk. That’s often their main need. We have to be flexible in our approach and try and meet people’s needs.

Who is eligible to receive the service?

When I started it was just available to ex-patients of Felindre Ward who are from the Radnorshire area of Powys. However, my remit has now been extended and I work very closely with the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team which is based at Bronllys Hospital. Staff in this team support people to remain at home, and when people are discharged from their care they can be signposted to me for further support.

How was the need for your post identified?

Colleagues at Mid Powys Mind originally identified a need through speaking to staff at Felindre Ward and the Crisis Home Treatment Team. They then worked on a funding bid and were pleased to receive an award from the Lloyds Bank Foundation to fund a 3 year project.

Key to my role is my link with Mid Powys Mind. Mind offers a comprehensive service with many different facets, and I can help people understand the service and access the right area. People might just sign up for counselling or go to the art group once a week. It’s whatever works for them. More often than not it puts routine back in to their lives plus it gives them the opportunity to spend time with others who understand.

I can also signpost people to Tim Skelcher, our 1:1 Recovery Worker

You mentioned isolation, what are some other typical difficulties that people face upon leaving hospital?

Yes, isolation is a key factor as well as low confidence and, of course, stigma. Living in rural areas is not only a contributing factor to isolation but can make someone feel that all the locals have an idea of what has been going on for them and although things are improving around awareness there still is a certain amount of stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Returning home from hospital can be daunting for patients as it can be a reminder of how unwell they were before their admittance to hospital. Properties have been left and the environment can be reflective of how unwell someone was. So, practical help in sorting and organising can be really helpful. There can also be a backlog of mail that needs attending to. This can be stressful depending on what it is.

How long does your support last?

I work with people for up to eight weeks following their discharge. However, if I feel they need further support I can request an additional four weeks. It can take a long time to get there sometimes.

I visit Felindre Ward regularly so that people know who I am and generally have a chat with the patients. There is not enough talking going on. Interpersonal skills are so important to people’s recovery. When I start working with a patient I often find that they just want to have a good chat.

How do people stay safe, well and independent once the reablement support has finished?

Some clients may already be in receipt of additional support via the Community Mental Health Team and other care organisations. However, as part of my post it is important to try to engage people with the service of Mid Powys Mind and introduce/support them to access possibly outreach groups and many other activities that Mind has to offer.

Tell us how your work fits in with that of other voluntary sector groups

At Mind we have been working hard to create better working relationships with partner organisations that can offer a specialist service to cater for a client’s specific needs. For example - drug and alcohol support, housing and tenancy. Also, doing something meaningful with their time when further along on their recovery journey can play a very valuable role, so volunteering themselves could be an option.

What are some of the hardest things about working on this project?

I suppose one of the hardest things about this job is that time is limited. During my time with a client I can develop a good working relationship and in order to do this there is a certain amount of trust and understanding realised. It is hard when our time comes to an end for them and all clients so far have said they wished it could have been for longer.

The nice things about working on the project?

The nice part of this post is, of course, seeing clients develop and their confidence build and an ability to push their boundaries and try new things.

Any other recent developments at Mid Powys Mind you can update us on?

We are developing a youth peer support group (18 – 25 year olds) which meets weekly on Tuesdays, 1 – 3pm, in the Training Room at the Resource Centre. It is great to be able to put young people in touch with their peer group and signpost them to other services that can be useful to them. We’re planning to work again with Owen Griffkin later in the Spring with more Havin’ A Laugh workshops. And a professional animator will be coming in to bring people from different generations together and interpret their stories using animation, so we’re very much looking forward to that. 

Many thanks to Mandy for telling us about the Reablement Service at Mid Powys Mind. You can contact Mandy by emailing or ringing 01597 824411.

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