She was my friend too.


    Alex Williams is a volunteer and a mental health service

    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    was withdrawn from my support package following a care programme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

    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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