It’s a really good feeling when somebody who struggles to engage with services takes it upon themselves to go get the support that can be so beneficial. For about two years I have worked with a guy who has bipolar (manic depression) which means he can be very high spirited and energetic and funny, and will then drop to being severely depressed and suicidal. He has a very low self esteem and I think this has a lot to do with why he finds it hard to take care of himself. Things that seem simple to others like going to a GP when ill, or making sure you eat at least 2 meals a day, he finds really hard. This guy has had lots of health problems since I’ve known him and he is registered with a doctor and will make himself an appointment but just not get there due to the above reasons and the chaotic nature of his lifestyle.
A few months ago I was getting increasingly worried about his health as he seemed to deteriorate rapidly; he was losing a lot of weight and strength. I know from experience that he’s not somebody you can have instant action with, he’s not going to go to his GP just because I suggest it and because he’s feeling ill. It’s often easier for him to stay at home and try no to think about it. I try to support him to access healthcare in a more subtle way. For example, by doing motivational work with him so looking at positive things in his life e.g. how well he’s done in the past, the good relationship he has with his girlfriend. I aim to help build his self-esteem in the hope this will help him to care more about himself and so look after himself better physically. I also keep an eye on his health so asking him each time I have contact with him how well he thinks his health is doing and what his thoughts or plans may be around taking care of himself.
I believe this work came to fruition one day when I found out he was in court so went down to try and find him. He was looking very ill. We had a chat about his health and he said “I think I need to go to hospital” and I told him I was free if he wanted me to go with him. He asked if we could get a bite to eat first to we popped to a local shop and then went. I believe my perseverance paid off. By keeping up contact I could monitor his health and show him that we care. I think it’s about getting the right balance between showing people that you care so you want them to access healthcare but also listening to them and hearing what they want and what they think and finding a middle ground. With this situation it was important to maintain contact, even though this service user would not take action for a long time, it kept him thinking about his health every time he saw me so that when he was ready to make a move forward I was there to support him.
Jen – Support Worker