The following case study is an example of the Connecting People Model in action within a Mental Health setting shown from the perspective of both the worker (Vish) and the individual (Greg).
Assessment team, mental health
“When I first met Greg he was very nervous as he perceived our service to be the ‘judges’ of whether or not he could keep his Personal Budget. It was important to make him feel at ease straight away by being friendly, having a bit of banter with him about the football (I’m a United fan and they’d just won against City), and above all being very open about the process. I could tell he was a man who got confused by the paperwork (don’t we all!) so whereas with some clients I go through the forms bit by bit, with Greg we just spoke and I filled things in after our session.
I get a lot of clients through the door as the nature of our service means we see a lot of people once every few months, so I always keep a record for myself of what we spoke about, reflections on how the sessions go and such so that I can remind myself of it when our next meeting is due (with Greg it had made a note to check the football results before I saw him again).
Our service is obviously trying to cut costs but we all try and look at this in a positive way – so the reason that someone’s Personal Budget is reduced is because they are more integrated with community activities and services that don’t require funding. To make this work I have to have really strong knowledge of all of the available services out there – and constantly be looking for new ideas of where someone could go, where they could try out. Here at our base we have a big table full of leaflets, fliers, and all sorts of information about different schemes in the area, which helps with inspiration if you are a bit stuck.
With Greg it was relatively easy as he was keen to become more active so a gym referral was the obvious choice. Then beyond that I remembered a local running club that I had heard good things about so after chatting with them about being supportive of Greg, put him in touch with them too. Because I don’t see him very often we try and set clear goals each time that he can then manage with the help of other people. This last session, we decided that he should go for a commitment goal as Greg has had problems attending something regularly due to his depression. We spoke with the gym and Greg decided to attend a regular kick-boxing class there, committing to attend every week. Greg also wanted a tangible target, so I investigated and with the help of the running club found a 5km run that Greg is going to enter in three months time.
Greg has good insight into his condition and knows that exercise and keeping busy helps stop his low mood, whereas sitting in the resource centre that he had been a member of full time does not help. It is all about having these solid goals to keep him moving forwards in the direction that he wants to go.”
“I was really not looking forward to meeting Vish because I had heard from friends in the mental health system that as soon as you stop getting a full time care coordinator, your support and your benefits start to stop too. Vish was nice though, he had some similar interests to me and I didn’t feel as scared about what this meeting meant after a few minutes in the room with him. He was really reassuring about it all and didn’t sit behind a desk with loads of official documents and stuff, it just felt like we were having a chat about what I liked to do and what I wanted to be doing in the future. He reassured me that I wouldn’t have my Personal Budget stopped as long as I needed it, and that if it did happen it would be because I was doing other things that didn’t require one any more. I had never thought of it that way before.
It was weird because even though I sort of knew that I wanted to do more exercise, Vish helped me work out what exactly I could be doing and put it into small bites of tasks. I had been sitting in a mental health resource centre not really doing much up until recently when my Personal Budget was up for review, and I think that had maybe made things worse. I had been quite worried about just going to the gym as I feel pretty unhealthy compared to how I used to be before I got ill, so when Vish told me that he knew the people at the gym, that he had referred other people over there before me, and that the staff there were really supportive I felt a lot better.
He also told me about the local running club and put me in touch with them. I’ve been going once a week to that since our session, and feeling a lot fitter. Its really nice to go somewhere where the point of the activity is just to run – its not some medical thing where everyone talks about their illness and stuff.
After we spoke about the running club, we decided ‘no time like the present’ so spent the remainder of the time visiting the local gym and getting the induction form filled in. I know that Vish only has a bit of time with me so it felt good that he could come and do that. I am not seeing him again until our next session which is a few months, but the goals that we have set are keeping me busy – I have a 5km run quite soon which I am trying to get a PB in! He wants to know how I do in it so I will email him after it.
All in all, Vish has provided me with all the support he can, and has linked me in with people that can help me get back on track and that have the time to spend with me, and all doing activities that I am actually interested in.”