The following case study is an example of the Connecting People Model in action within a CMHT, Older Adult Mental Health setting shown from the perspective of both the worker (Kay) and the individual (Deloris).
CMHT, Older Adult Mental Health
When Deloris first came to the service she had recently lost her husband. She was coping reasonably well but several months after the loss her sadness had not improved and seemed to be getting worse. At the time that I met Deloris she was clinically depressed but seeking change in her life. Deloris has two daughters who live in London and Birmingham with their families. They visit on occasion and have expressed concern over Deloris’ situation but are unfortunately unable to be involved on a daily or weekly basis.
Through our initial assessment and building a relationship of trust, I could tell that her depression stemmed very much from her loneliness and isolation. At aged 72 and living in a rural area, her husband and the couple friends they had together were her main source of social contact for many years. Although mobility was not an issue, she has deteriorating sight and is therefore unable to drive. When Hugh passed she found it difficult to leave the house and connect with others.
Because she was motivated to recover from the depression we initially worked on exploring her interests (past and present) and setting achievable goals for getting out of the house and connecting with others.
Many of the other service users I work with have mobility issues, making it increasingly difficult to leave home and get connected to others. Aside from her inability to drive, she is still able to get out of the house. She can walk to the local shop but the buses to larger towns only run once per day. We had initial discussions of practical support because she needed to get to the GP regularly for vision exams.
Together we decided to look for activities in the area that Deloris could get to on the bus, and set goals initially to leave the house twice per week. I was able to take her to some activities but wanted to be sure these were opportunities to meet new people so that she could continue getting involved without me.
From the beginning I really enjoyed my time with Kay. She came round to see me every week or so and we’d have a cuppa and start chatting. I never felt like she was just testing me, or asking too many questions. You know how some support workers are, they seem to be ticking boxes rather than getting to know a person. I never felt that way with Kay. She was friendly and never pretended to have lived through my experience. She let me share details about my life and I felt that she understood, without necessarily having lived it herself.
We started talking about my hobbies and interests and sometimes I don’t feel like I have many at all. But she helped me to think back about what Hugh and I used to do together. He was a farmer and was quite involved with the union of farmers in the county. When they met together, I would go and see the wives, but hadn’t been since he passed away. I wasn’t so sure that I could go back to this group without Hugh. Kay suggested we go together. Her brother is also a farmer in the area and we decided to go to the meeting together for a few times so that she could introduce me to a few people.
Well the first time I was really nervous. I hadn’t been out to see people much recently and I didn’t know how others would react to my being there. Also, I worried that people wouldn’t be the right age. Sometimes I feel that I have nothing in common with people from the younger generation but those in my age group have many more health problems than I do. It’s all they talk about sometimes! But at the first meeting I recognised a few people and was happy to have Kay there with me. It took a few meetings before I felt ready to go on my own but I’ve met one woman who lost her husband too and we’re now able to go to the meetings together. Next week we’re planning to go to the travelling cinema that comes to the area once per week.
I’m still seeing Kay regularly but with meeting new people I feel less anxious about leaving the house.