“When I came across this job it was completely by chance. It was in my opinion, the best of both worlds. Providing the intensity of an inpatient ward, with the freedom of being in the community” says Erin Stewart, Occupational Therapist with the Living Well Network Alliance Rehabilitation Team (ART). Erin shares her time between The Turrets and Lancaster Avenue, two supported housing projects that bring together a dedicated multi-disciplinary team that puts the individual and their assets at its heart. The aim to help people live as independently as possible or to help them stay in appropriate accommodation.
“I started the role in March 2020 as the pandemic started to get real, just before we all got the stay home order and the world changed. Then during the height of the pandemic I got pulled as non essential staff and worked in 332 Brixton Road (south east Living Well Centre) on duty twice a week. I was still trying to do rehab / working from home / support the Certitude staff (involved in the housing projects) as much as I could. Unfortunately with a client group that already can be difficult to engage, I found teleworking with them really really challenging. “
Back at the housing projects, “it’s been super challenging not having a psychologist for a year! They can’t fill the post so I’m it and a bit. But I am lucky to work with Rob Wilson, Turrets consultant who is wonderful. Coronavirus has provided its own set of challenges depriving my clients the few things they can engage in highlighting for me how restricted one is if they do not have the latest smart phone, access to a device or the knowledge how to use one. Alas, we have pushed on, and look forward to the restrictions easing and being able to support client’s engaging with all the joys life has to offer… there are only so many cooking sessions I can do.”
“Despite the pandemic we have been able to work towards some very special goals. One Lancaster client is starting her first job as a cleaner with SRA (Southside Rehabilitation Association). When this lady first came to Lancaster she had difficulty maintaining her room and found taking on any critiques or feedback extremely challenging and frustrating. Almost a year on, she takes great pride in how her room looks – “it has to be nice innit, its my space”.”
“Another special moment for me was supporting a client with planning and preparing healthy meals. We had previously done a shopping and cooking session and this day I greeted the client and was chatting and catching up. I asked what they were up to and with a beaming smile, showing the contents of their backpack they reported they were making the healthy wraps we had made.”
“Before I came here I was working in a Rapid Response team. I previously worked for the COAST, Croydon early intervention psychosis, an amazing team … and missed mental health and the work. As challenging as it is at times, I do love it.”