Stories of changing lives
15th January 2010
A new collection of narratives, launched today, demonstrates how recovery-focussed community care can support people living with a diagnosis of long term mental illness, to take back control of their lives.
Stories of changing lives recalls the mid to late 1990s, when over a hundred patients were discharged from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital long term care wards and hostels, into the community.
The story is told through more than twenty personal accounts and reflections, gathered from those who made the transition, and members of the multi-disciplinary team that supported them.
The discharge happened as a result of bed closures. But, instead of being problematic, thanks to the recovery-focussed approach taken by staff, moving out of a hospital setting to live in the community proved to be a valuable opportunity for people to regain independence, and control of their lives.
Throughout the book, the narrators remind us of the importance of personalised and tailored support that helps people to regain and retain control. Lesley Smith, of the Patients’ Council at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, who compiled and edited the book, and who has her own experience of recovery, sums this up in her introduction: “…when individuals and professionals work together, where the person is central and in the driving seat, positive change happens.”
In one of the final accounts, mental health worker Carl Abernethy tells the story of Jenny who made a successful and happy transition to living in the community after having being detained for more than twenty years: “Jenny’s story .. reinforces my belief that recovery can and does happen, and that with the environments we create, what we do, and the relationships we have with people, we do make a difference.”
Stories of changing lives will be a useful resource for people with experience of long term residential care in a hospital setting, and those who support them.
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