Thursday, 25 May 2017

Introducing Philip Moisson - new Participation Officer

Philip Moisson at Ponthafren Assocation in Newtown
with trustee Jan Rogers (left) and new individual rep Sarah Dale (right).
Philip recently joined the mental health team at Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations (PAVO) to take up the Participation Officer post left vacant when Carla Rosenthal moved on to become a Community Connector. Philip’s face may well be familiar to many readers as for the past two years he has been the facilitator at Powys Patients’ Council. We met up in Knighton during Mental Health Awareness Week and I found out more about his two roles.

Tell us more about your new role as a Participation Officer in the PAVO mental health team?

My first involvements with PAVO were when Freda Lacey was in this role, and I was one of the people who participated in things she invited us to. There were events around ‘service user’ and ‘carer’ representation, an anti-social behaviour and mental health research project, and sometimes conferences too. As well as looking for something productive to do back then, I also learned the value of service user involvement and how this is being taken seriously in some places now. A big part of my task is to support the work of the volunteer representatives who sit on the Mental Health Partnership Board, alongside health board staff, Welsh Government representation and other groups. I will also be looking for other ways to get people involved in meaningful conversations about services.

How is the new job going so far?

It was fairly difficult to adjust to the pressures of working and being responsible for more than just my own wellbeing. There were strong feelings of disapointment in how long it had taken me in my own journey to go from initial diagnosis to a point where I had anything near the right balance of treatment and medication. It also took me far too long to apply for and be assessed for the right benefit support. The way you go about feeding constructively into services around you from that basis is difficult, and involves immersing yourself in other people’s stories and concerns. I’m committed to helping more people make their views known about their own treatment and to supporting our volunteer reps in making common concerns known.

I hear you’ve been out and about meeting people at the Powys Wellness & Recovery Learning Centres?

So far I’ve been making myself known to staff at the main centres in Powys. It makes sense to put time and effort into these links, and to be around the many people as staff, volunteers or members who have expert knowledge of services. I will also make an effort to get to the outreach centres associated with many of these charities, and beyond that I am more than aware that there are people suffering in isolation, and there are important stories to be made known there too.

Wellness & Recovery Learning Centre at Felindre Ward, Bronllys Hospital

What about your other role as Patients' Council Facilitator? Tell us about that.

The model for Patients' Council involves bringing former patients of Felindre Ward at Bronllys Hospital together with current patients, and we hold relaxed discussions about any aspect of life on the ward. We then take any concerns anonymously to ward management and try to work together to tweak or improve the ward as best we can. We have good relations with ward staff, and are still putting work into small funding bids to increase activity levels on the ward.

Who comes to the meetings?

Current in-patients are the only people allowed into our meetings - alongside volunteers Rhydian and John. I facilitate the discussion and make sure we cover the things we need to, and we’ve met some remarkable people who draw on their lived experience for courage. We often meet people at difficult times in their life but sometimes we can manage a smile and a chuckle, and we almost always manage to discuss relevant matters during our meetings.

Give us an idea of some of the issues that come up

Activity levels on the ward are a constant topic, and although we like the work of the current two Occupational Therapists there is still space for more things to occupy patients during their stay. Other things that come up include discussions over the food and atmosphere on the ward. For quite some time we raised the issue of internet access for patients being absent on the ward, but we’re pleased to say that this was brought up to date in recent months.

How did you get involved with Patients' Council originally?

As I mentioned before, I was an interested participant with the PAVO mental health team - at a time when I was deemed ‘unfit for work’. There are many people in this situation currently, and I’m well aware of the dangers of a disability employment gap in mental health. When I started to look at part-time work options again I interviewed for a different role at PAVO and impressed enough to be given a chance with Patients' Council. It’s kudos to my line manager Jane Cooke really, who recognised the value of my voluntary contributions elsewhere and gave me a chance to gain the skills and confidence to attempt paid work again.

What would your ideal mental health hospital ward look like?

The most important aspects would be equality between staff and patients in every way. There’s actually a really good example of a centre designed by ‘service users’ and ‘carers’ in Hafal’s Gellinudd Recovery Centre - and by all accounts it also saves the NHS money. We’ve been positioned to help our own ward develop the garden space it has, and I think that outdoor space is hugely beneficial. To be honest, I really wouldn’t hospitalise anyone - I’d build a large rural retreat where people who are struggling would be made welcome alongside people who are coping.

Have you taken inspiration from others in the field of mental health, and if so who?

I really want to see the new film about the life of Glaswegian psychiatrist R D Laing ‘Mad to be Normal’. There’s something about the spirited challenges to mainstream psychiatry that connect with me, and he did more to be alongside his patients than many can achieve. Also, I like anyone who talks first and offers drugs later.

Tell us about some of the most rewarding work you’ve done in the mental health field

I actually think there are rewarding things ahead. The level of recognition of mental health as a common problem is slowly rising, and there are alternative approaches such as the Finnish Open Dialogue approach gaining real traction in places. If we brought this to Powys one day I’d be delighted. However, in terms of finding something that made a difference to my life after years of instability then the most difficult, involved, but ultimately rewarding work I’ve done, is my own personal course of psychotherapy.

When you’re not working how do you enjoy your spare time?

I love the outdoors in Powys and beyond, and I also play recreational basketball for fitness and fun. I’d like to spend more time meditating and being calm, but for now standing outside and shooting jump-shots at a basket for ages will have to do.

PAVO mental health team
Back row L-R: Jackie Newey (Information Officer), Philip Moisson (Participation Officer)
Front row L-R:  Jane Cooke (Senior Officer Mental Health), Melissa Townsend (Participation Support Worker),
Anne Woods (Participation Officer).

No comments:

Post a Comment