I commenced my secondment with Touchstone at the beginning of July for a period of three months. It was an opportunity to explore different ways of working and to form better links between Touchstone Community Support Team (CST) and the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).
On my first day the Chief Executive, Alison, came and welcomed me to Touchstone and I met with Operations Director, Jim. I had met most of the CST previously at a Team Meeting and had attended a Service User Review Day a few weeks before I started my secondment. To say I felt welcomed was a bit of an understatement and I found it relatively easy to fit in with the Team. Within the first two weeks I met with Jill from SDS and Operations Director Jim. Jill spoke about how SDS works and provided an insight into a typical working day for her and her Team. Jim spoke about his role within Touchstone and the roles of each organisation under the Touchstone umbrella. I also attended the Toscars Award Ceremony and cannot remember the last time I have laughed so much. I started to realise then what a closely knit organisation Touchstone is and the fact that everybody, including the managers did not mind sending themselves up!
I worked with a small caseload and also supported other members of the CST team on visits and co-working service users. I initially found it challenging to not be thinking in purely a clinical and medical way with service users, but gradually began to use the Strengths Model and adopt a more socially minded approach. I found this extremely useful and observed first hand that service users are more likely to engage in something they enjoy as opposed to clinical and medical interventions a lot of the time. I benefitted from gaining advice and experience regarding different ways of working from the Team and also provided them with advice around various clinical and medical aspects related to service users. I regularly attended CST Team Meetings and felt that my input was valued and appreciated.
I found that I could approach members of the Team with any difficulties I encountered and always found CST Manager, Jay and Senior Worker, Colin approachable at all times and felt well supported by them.
Whilst at Touchstone I also attended two Leadership Masterclasses which I found informative and very touching at times when the speakers shared their personal experiences. I found it inspirational that people can become leaders despite having to endure many personal barriers earlier in their lives.
I am returning to my CMHT at the beginning of October, but some great news is that I will be the future link person between Touchstone CST and CMHT! I will be attending Touchstone CST Team Meetings and will be liaising with both CMHT and Touchstone staff regarding work with service users. Although this is the beginning, I am certain that it will promote good relationships between Touchstone and CMHT and will provide service users with a more holistic package of care.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to everybody I have met through Touchstone and the fact that I have felt empowered through all of your support and kindness. Oh and before I forget, thank you for letting me be a member of the Touchstone family! Onwards and upwards!
Richard Garnett
Community Mental Health Nurse
Aire Court