Senior Forensic Social Worker and Carers’ lead
Meeting new families is a highlight of my day. They sometimes arrive worried and unsure. I sit down with them, give them a big smile and some refreshments. I stress the important role they play and that we’ll listen and be there for them to them. You can see them relax as they realise we’re together in this.
“I’ve been planning our next carers’ forum. We set it up two years ago with carers; they wanted somewhere they could come together, learn and feel supported. People travel hundreds of miles – I’m privileged to be involved.
Having somewhere to be themselves is really important. As clinicians we focus on the patient, but I’m passionate that carers should have their story heard. Some people have told us this just wouldn’t be possible in a carers group within their local community. It could be that the case may have attracted media interest, or it be just too traumatic to share. In our group they are among people who can empathise.
I was never more proud of our carer support programme than when I co-presented a workshop in London with a patient’s mum. It was full to the brim! We shared all the things we’ve done that carers told us will make their lives better – more involvement; education about mental health conditions and treatments so they feel empowered in meetings – and to break down barriers and tackle the stigma of being in a secure hospital.
Our hospital tour gives people a real insight into where their loved one is being cared for. Today a family told me it’s really helped them reconnect with their relative. I was delighted. We’ve helped them stay close as a family – that’s the way we work.”