She was my friend too.

     

    Alex Williams is a volunteer and a mental health service
    user.

    As a service user any change in support can have a significant
    impact on my life. Last month my community psychiatric nurse (CPN)
    was withdrawn from my support package following a care programme
    approach (CPA) review. The professionals present felt that I had
    been seeing my CPN for a long time and it would be good to change
    workers due to my continued self-harm.

    The decision left me distraught. It felt like bereavement. I had
    built up a good rapport with my CPN and felt that she was genuinely
    concerned about me and proud of my achievements. When I struggled
    most she had enough faith for both of us that I would pull through.
    She was dynamic and worked in a person-centred way. I have no
    family in my area so she was, along with my support worker, my main
    source of support.

    My depression worsened. I overdosed on painkillers twice. I asked
    to go on to the psychiatric ward and discharged myself soon after
    admission. I didn’t feel any safer there and staff weren’t
    available. I felt that I couldn’t start again with another worker.
    I’ve since realised that I will lose out if I withdraw from
    services now. My voluntary work provided me with stability through
    a difficult time. My support worker listened to my feelings of
    disappointment. She is an advocate for me in trying to get other
    support put in place.

    I disagree with anyone who says that my feelings on losing my CPN
    were solely due to my mental health problems. When you have worked
    with a professional for a long time an attachment does exist. And
    when you feel better you rely less on their intervention. I had
    hoped my CPN would see me until I was closer to recovery; then it
    would have been a shared journey and given her satisfaction as
    well.

    So what would have made the change easier? Being in the room when
    decisions were made at the CPA review would have helped – I was
    waiting outside for 30 minutes. A planned rather than sudden change
    would have been far better. Seeing someone over the following weeks
    – the new worker has not been allocated yet – would also have
    helped me.

    I did see the community mental health team manager. She said that
    workers would be rotated in future so it is unlikely I will see the
    same person long-term. This worries me since I want continuity of
    care. I am able to see my CPN as a one-off to thank her for her
    input. Social care staff need to be aware that changing staff can
    be difficult for users, be sensitive to this and offer increased
    support. I am grateful for the time I’ve had working with my CPN
    because it helped me gain insight through psychodynamic work and I
    learned to trust someone.

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