Cherryhurst Pride Celebration

As what would have been Manchester Pride 2020 rolled around, Cherryhurst Support Worker, Liam, was keen to create our very own Care in Mind Pride event.

Below, he shares how teamwork and kindness brought his idea into fruition, as well as details of the day itself:

Care in Mind consistently practice with inclusivity, which I feel particularly aware of as a transgender man. Therefore, when it came to planning Care in Mind Pride 2020, I was not surprised by the enthusiasm my colleagues and Residential Manager, Dominic, encountered my idea with. Every step of the way, Dominic has been incredibly supportive in bringing the idea to reality, ensuring we had enough budget for decorations and rainbow party food!

Additionally, we were met by extreme kindness from local businesses and charities who donated prizes and runway clothing for the day. Refuse To Conform clothing donated some prizes and gifts for the young people to thank them for their hard work towards making the day such a success. And, it was a local charity shop, West Kirby Cats Protection, that helped us pick out some amazingly fabulous runway outfits.

The big day itself was a complete success; from the planning to the main event, and finale, of the Runway Extravaganza, both staff and residents were completely enthralled. Fun and games were enjoyed throughout the day, even during a game of ‘throw wet sponges at management’! We also enjoyed a blindfolded mocktail game, which brought out everyone’s competitive side.

When it came to the finale, our Ru Paul Runway Extravaganza, everyone was utterly amazing and completely exceeded expectations. Residents strutted the runway, blossoming with confidence, and got completely into the spirit of the event.

Reflecting on the day, young people commented: “It was a great day”, and “let’s do it again next year!”

The event perfectly celebrated the diversity we have within the service, both amongst staff and young people. It was a lovely way to recognise how diversity promotes success and why we should all feel proud to embrace who we are. Everyone involved in the day seemed to take a lot from it and left with a smile, and many of those involved in the runway event even discovered a new hobby – dressing up in drag!

Talking About Suicide

Suicide is a taboo subject, however, talking about it in an appropriate and sensitive manner is hugely important.

Much alike the wider conversation around mental health, talking about suicide may help someone who feels isolated in their thoughts, feelings or experiences. Individuals suffering with suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt survivors and those bereaved by suicide could all benefit from the support talking can bring with it.

However, it can be a triggering topic, which is why it isn’t as simple as opening up the conversation – we must also get the dialogue right. Within our Model of Care, we focus a lot on the importance of the words we use and our body language.

Don’t be afraid to be direct

When it comes to talking about suicide, your instinct may be to tiptoe around the subject. However, it is better to ask simple, direct, but, still sensitively-worded questions. Through this method, the individual will be provided with the opportunity to share how they are feeling. In fact, according to Mind UK, research has actually shown that speaking openly about suicide can decrease the likelihood of the person acting on their feelings.

Practice active listening

Active listening is almost like an enhanced way of doing what we all do every day, it’s a way of using techniques to give someone the space and time needed to open up.  Once someone starts to be honest with you about their feelings, it’s important to listen carefully and refrain from making the conversation about yourself. The Samaritans utilise the acronym ‘SHUSH’ to remember key tips for active listening (see below, or read more here).

Be mindful and kind

Whilst it is important to be direct, as we have already mentioned, it is still vital that you are mindful of what you say. For example, if you are talking to a survivor of suicide or someone who has been bereaved through suicide, be mindful of asking about potentially triggering details. Instead, focus on how the individual is feeling, actively listen and provide emotional support for them. 

Use the correct terminology

Some of the terminology we use today originates in the days when suicide was viewed as a criminal act. These days, our understanding of mental health conditions has changed, and thus, it’s important that we steer away from using both ancient and harmful words/phrases. Take a look at the image below for ideas of the what you shouldn’t say, and what you could say instead.

These tips have been based on professional advice, and will not only help you in speaking to someone who has suicidal thoughts, but help to also break the stigma still attached to it. By opening up the lines of communication and being sensitive about the subject, we can give more people the space needed to be honest in times of need.

For more suggestions and resources, whether you’re worried about someone else or yourself, click here.

What is Dissociation?

Our brain has various methods for coping with trauma and stress, one of these methods is dissociation.

When someone dissociates, their thoughts, feelings, behaviours, how they see their environment, memory, how present they are, and how they view the world disconnects. Their mind no longer works in harmony, and instead becomes separated. There are many theories of dissociation, but one is the idea that dissociation is a continuum, and that symptoms can range from mild to severe. In fact, for many of us, it may be a surprise to realise that we often mildly dissociate in our day-to-day life.

Dissociation for some may mean ‘zoning out’ or ‘daydreaming’ – it may present itself as missing your exit on the motorway or losing track of time during in a dull meeting. However, for someone who has experienced trauma, dissociation can show itself in a more pronounced way. It may impact their memory, sense of who they are, and how they perceive the world.

Severe dissociation may occur in many ways, such as forgetting past experiences, depersonalisation (feeling detached from yourself), or unusual experiences such as seeing/hearing things other people cannot. It may also cause vivid and realistic flashbacks to past trauma, whereby you feel like you’re ‘reliving’ a past experience. This can be a very frightening experience for the individual.

Dissociation is not a necessarily a bad thing though; it actually provides the individual with a psychological escape. It allows those who have experienced trauma to go about their normal daily living whilst coping with emotional distress. For some, many aspects of dissociating is a comforting, positive experience but it can also be a frightening reminder of upsetting experiences, causing your brain to jump into ‘panic mode’.

Caring for someone with dissociation, whether in a personal or professional capacity, may feel daunting. However, with understanding, you learn that they have simply found their own way to survive. Sometimes individuals get stuck an unhealthy habit to survive, which challenges their ability to recover from whatever they were trying to survive in the first place. Therefore, paying attention to dissociation is an important part of recovery.

At Care in Mind, we use evidence-based methods for helping our young people in the most effective way. One of these methods is a three-step technique, based on regulating, relating, and reasoning. This can especially help during a flashback.

For regulation, the purpose is to help the individual to manage their response to the flashback. This may be done through encouraging grounding techniques. A comforting smell, relaxing song or hot drink may help assist someone in their grounding. It is also helpful to remind the individual that they are safe, and that the flashback will pass. Additionally, it is also important to promote self-care and soothing methods at this stage.

The second step, relating, is about connecting to the individual by being sensitive to their needs. We do this primarily through validation, which is a key element of our model of care. Validation is all about recognising someone’s feelings and allowing them to feel heard. However, it goes beyond words – it’s also about seeing and hearing the young person and connecting with them and their distress. For more help on validating statements and behaviour, click here.

Finally, it is important to help the individual reflect on what just happened. It is at this point that, together, you can both reflect on what happened and what may help going forward. It can be useful to make a note of triggers and consider why your brain had the response that it did. At Care in Mind, it would be the young person’s assigned therapy session where they may do further reflecting on the incident, and thus find methods to avoid future episodes.

Dissociation is a normal and understandable coping response but if you find that it is causing you distress, please seek support. There are also ways in which you can care yourself. The mental health charity, Mind, has several helpful suggestions and information about coping with dissociation.

The content of this blog post is a summary of a recent webinar facilitated by Dr Lena Marden and Dr Christy Laganis, Clinical Psychologists at Care in Mind.

Safewards for Safehomes

We began implementing “Safewards for Safehomes” at Care in Mind in 2015, to support our ethos of least restrictive practice and working therapeutically to manage risk.

Our team worked alongside Professor Len Bowers of Safewards to adapt the ward-based model for our community setting. Working closely with Professor Bowers, we have been able to stay true to the original Safewards model. To our knowledge, we remain one of the only residential providers implementing the model within a community setting.

Safewards is an evidence-based model that is designed to reduce conflict and containment, traditionally on ward environments. This is achieved through ten key interventions that serve to improve the relationship between staff and young people thereby reducing conflict and containment. You can find out more about the model and interventions on the Safewards website.

We have found that the implementation of Safewards for Safehomes within our residential services has had an overwhelmingly positive impact. The model allows for a more therapeutic relationship between staff and young people. In fact, in many ways, it allows the young people in our care to see the staff as more human. It also complements other elements of our model of care, including the Boundary Seesaw model (Hamilton 2010). Staff and young people can enjoy a healthy, supportive relationship with clear boundaries in place to promote a safe, consistent environment.

 

Analysis of incident data shows us that the implementation of Safewards has had a significant impact on conflict reduction in homes. The clear structure of the model and the range of interventions provide a positive framework for our staff, which guides them through managing conflict. This allows them to react in the most helpful way, creating a more supportive environment. Young people are also encouraged through the model to develop responsibility for their actions and conduct.

The use of language has been key for us in applying the model to a community setting. For example, words like ‘ward’ or ‘patient’ don’t translate to our residential environment. Each of our homes is 4 or 5-bedded, so there are fewer discharges than a busy ward environment, which means fewer “Discharge Messages”. Therefore, we use “Positive Messages” instead. These might include song lyrics or quotes chosen by young people, as well as messages left by individuals who have left the service.

Each of our homes puts their own creative stamp on the interventions:

Some of the challenges we’ve encountered include consistency and ensuring the model is thoroughly understood. This is targeted through a strong focus on training, and the identification of Safewards Champions in each service and department. We also now implement Safewards for Safehomes workshops for our young people. Our Best Practice Facilitator, Dominique Hooper, has corporate responsibility for embedding Safewards. She supports our teams to think creatively about how the interventions can be applied in challenging situations.

Our ideas for further building on the ten key interventions include:

  • Music and mood: thinking about the effects of music on mood and how we can use music to self-soothe or lower arousal and agitation
  • Physical activity: considering the impact of being more physically active on our well-being

Overall, the process of embedding Safewards into our model of care at Care in Mind has been phenomenally positive. Implementation has been no mean feat, and the continuous development and improvement of the project is ever evolving. We have seen the benefits to the wellbeing of our staff and young people, as well as the dynamics between them. We find that it promotes kindness, respect, empathy and validation, all of which are core principles within our organisation.

For more information on Safewards, the ten key interventions and lots of other ideas you can visit the Safewards website or join the international Safewards community on Facebook.

Supporting a Friend With Mental Illness

Building and maintaining healthy friendships is an important part of an individual’s journey to improved mental health.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know exactly how to support friends who are struggling. Here, we have rounded up six simple tips to help you support your friend.

Firstly, try to encourage communication and create a safe space for them to discuss how they feel. People who are dealing with a mental illness may not always be forthcoming in talking about their emotions. Therefore, be prepared to start the conversation rather than waiting for them to come to you. You can create a communication safe space by ensuring it is somewhere they are comfortable, and with few distractions around.

When you are talking with your friend about their mental health, try not to make assumptions or diagnose them. Their diagnosis and subsequent solutions are areas best left to their healthcare professionals.

 

When communicating with a friend about their mental health, listen to what they are saying and validate their feelings. We recently did a blog post about the importance on empathy, which may help you understand how to be validating in what you say.

If your friend is not already seeking professional help, you may want to encourage them to visit their GP. Try to remain supportive of their choices, whether they decide to engage in counselling or wish to try medication alongside therapy sessions. Different approaches work for different people, and what worked for your brother’s girlfriend’s cousin, may not work for your friend.

Above all these tips, one small, but infinitely supportive, act you can do is check-in with your friend on a regular, unprompted basis. Some people who are currently struggling with their mental health may not feel able to reach out to people. However, a simple text (‘Hi, how are you? x’) may help them from becoming isolated or lonely. It will also remind them that people care for their wellbeing.

Finally, you must remember to know your own boundaries and take care of your own wellbeing. Sometimes it’s not in our power or best interests to help someone. In cases like this, you must be mindful of maintaining your own mental health first and foremost. 

 

For more help on this topic, please see below:

Great British Care Awards

This year, we will be entering the Great British Care Awards for the first time.

Great British Care Awards are a series of regional events throughout the UK and are a celebration of excellence across the Care Sector. The purpose of the awards is to pay tribute to those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding excellence within their field of work.

We have exceptional talent at Care in Mind, with staff regularly demonstrating a true passion and dedication to help our Young People. Through entering the Care Awards, we hope to shine a light on the amazing people that consistently work hard to uphold our values.

Anyone can nominate a Care in Mind staff member, and through doing so, you will be supporting their dedication and commitment. Additionally, you will be helping to raise the profile of Care in Mind. If this is something you are interested in, please see the details below.

The categories that we are eligible to enter are:

  • The Care Employer Award
  • The Care Newcomer Award
  • The Care Team Award
  • The Care Home Activity Organiser Award
  • The Workforce Development Award
  • The Care Innovator Award
  • The Frontline Leaders Award
  • The Home Care Coordinator Award
  • The Putting People First/Personalisation Award
  • The Outstanding Contribution to Social Care

Please visit www.care-awards.co.uk where you can view each listed category and submit your nominations. Each nomination is allowed up to 300 words per entry and there is no limit on nominations which you can submit. The deadline for all nominations for the 2020 Regional Awards is 31st August 2020 so please make sure you get your nominations in by then.

Good luck to everyone getting involved with this year’s Great British Care Awards.

Home Project: The ‘Positivitree’

As an organisation, we are committed to service-user involvement, and thus, we encourage the young people to suggest projects and acitivites for the homes to engage in.

Getting involved in projects is not only a rewarding way to spend time, but it is also a great opportunity for the young people and staff to engage with each other. Subsequently, the young people often take the lead in planning projects, and recently, a Yorkshire hub home resident formulated their own idea of a project to involve their home and local community.

Their idea was to create a positivity tree to lift the spirits of their local community during the coronavirus pandemic. As a home, the young people worked on putting together boxes to share around the local area containing a positivity bauble, wooden heart, a leaflet about the home, an explanation of the ‘Positivitree’ and a small sweet treat. They were then dropped off to houses around their local community.

In the box, there were instructions for individuals to write their own positive message or quote onto the wooden heart. The purpose being to hang these messages on the tree, thus creating an inspirational and happy place.

On a sunny evening in June, the local community were invited to drop by and hang up their positivity bauble and wooden heart. Whilst done in a socially-distanced and safe way, it allowed the community and home to come together and be introduced to each other. Furthermore, the staff shared with the community a little more information about what Care in Mind does, to help them understand why what we do is so vital.

The project was hugely successful and everyone had a lovely time. For the young people involved, it was an opportunity to showcase their creativity and kindness. The ‘Positivitree’ now symbolises the sense of community created that day as well as a place of understanding and inspiration. 

Due to the event being such a success, the young people of this home are now thinking of other ways they can engage with the community going forward!

The Importance of Empathy

Empathy, compassion and validation are a vital part of our company values.

Alongside our five other key values, we are committed to being compassionate in all that we do. The act of being compassionate goes hand-in-hand with empathy and validation, and allows us to offer the best support to the young people within our care, thus successfully assisting them through their journey to recovery.

But what exactly is empathy? And how does it relate to validation? Empathy can be understood using the metaphor of shoes – it is the act of placing yourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand how they feel. Naturally, depending on the condition of the shoes, the size, brand and style, you can’t always completely understand what it is like to wear the shoes of someone else. You can, however, use your own past experiences and knowledge to gain a good understanding of what other people’s shoes may feel like, which is where empathy comes in. 

An important part of empathy is letting go of the idea that you must solve someone’s problems, or distract them from what they are feeling. Whilst this may sometimes be a useful tool, there are other occasions where the opposite is far more successful. By providing a safe space and an empathetic ear to someone, you can allow individuals to feel validated and less isolated in their feelings. This is how empathy and validation can work in perfect harmony to ensure you provide the best support, whether it’s for a colleague, friend or someone in your care.

Here is a great example of how empathy can be a useful tool when trying to comfort someone.

*Please also pay particular attention to the validating statements Sadness uses.

And, here we have some examples of how to encounter two different situations using empathy and validating statements:

Example 1: Your child comes to you one day clearly very upset, they explain it is because they feel like they did badly in an exam.

What not to say: “Oh, don’t cry! It will be okay, I am sure you did really well.”

What to say: “I can imagine why you are feeling upset right now, regardless of how you have done though, I am still proud of you.”

Example 2: You are a support worker in a mental health residential home and a young person is mourning the loss of their hamster.

What not to say: “It’s only a hamster, we can get you another one.”

What to say: “You must be feeling very sad about your loss at the moment, I bet he was a really lovely pet.”

At Care in Mind, we are devoted to ensuring the young people within our homes feel safe, cared-for and validated. A key way we achieve this is through practicing empathy, and using this guide, it is something you can apply to appropriate scenarios throughout your personal and professional life.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Young Person

One of the Care in Mind young people share a unique insight into how they have adapted to life in lockdown.

How have you found lockdown?

It has been hard. For the first three weeks I was stuck in a cycle and unable to sleep properly as I would be sleeping a lot in the day. There was nothing much I wanted to focus on and I didn’t know what to do.

How have your therapy sessions altered?

For me, I can’t communicate with people if it is not in person, so I was worried about how therapy sessions would be. I struggle to get as deep into things, and if it is not deep then I can’t advance more because I don’t enjoy it – I just don’t feel comfortable. It’s difficult because I do really want to move on and advance, I want to talk about so much but it’s a struggle.

How have you overcome this?

Instead of going deep into a situation, I am quickly analysing how I feel and asking myself questions like… “Ok, this happened to me. Well, why did this happen? What was the reactions of both people? Why did they react in that way?” I’ll do a quick analysis of the whole situation and think about how I can improve it and what went well. This way, I am still being honest about things and analysing how I feel, but I am perhaps not going into it as deep as I may in person.

What has helped you maintain your wellbeing?

I have recently started thinking a lot more about self-improvement and making a realistic goal for each month. I’m really into computers and so I’m learning a new programming language at the moment; and as I run my own business, I wanted to improve my commercial awareness. These are two simple things I can do during this time. I’m doing these things in small steps, because this is the best way to get better at something – you can’t just expect results right away, you need to find your routine in order to progress.

What have you struggled with during this time?

I have found that I need to adapt my routine with food. I’ve been trying to think about being more healthy, but also I want to treat myself because I am in lockdown and I want something to entertain me. I’ve been trying to find a balance – is it healthy enough for me to sustain? Because of course I am not using as much physical energy as usual.

How have you stayed safe when out and about?

I have been using my hour of outdoor exercise to go on a short cycle ride twice a week. Normally I would cycle between 10 – 20 miles, but I have had to pull that back during this time so that I am keeping it within the hour. I am always also making sure to keep the distance between myself and other people as I find this to be really important.

How are you maintaining positive?

I am always thinking about what opportunities I can benefit from at this time, whether it is my business or just having more time. If you keep your mind stimulated on something else, it really helps you because the hardest time for people with mental health issues is when they are not doing anything. That makes this the most difficult time for anyone with mental health struggles because you are spending time inside doing nothing.

Adapting to the New ‘Normal’ – Clinical Psychologist

Care in Mind Clinical Psychologist, Dr Christy Laganis, shares her unique take on adapting to life in lockdown.

Rather than being based in an open-office, trying to drown out the chitter-chatter around me, the majority of my days are now spent in my living room speaking to people online – it’s a bit weird. I was recently introduced to a new support worker, he asked me a question which took me by surprise, and I had to pause to think. The question was simple enough but few people other than my supervisor, manager and ‘buddy’ have taken the time to ask. The question: “how are you coping with all of this?”

As a Clinical Psychologist, I spend most of my time listening to how people cope, or if I’m being truthful, trying to get people to acknowledge how they are coping. So, I should probably be comfortable talking about feelings-right?

I think a common misperception of Clinical Psychologists is that we somehow do feelings better than everyone else or that we like them because we spend so much time going on about them. I’m mindful that I can’t speak on behalf of all Clinical Psychologists but let me be clear in saying “I do not like talking about my feelings!”. I do not enjoy it, it makes me uncomfortable and if there was any other way of not talking about my feelings, I would jump on it. So, no I certainly do not do feelings better than anybody else, and I often feel like an imposter when others have the expectation that I do. I feel just as awkward as anyone else. However, I’ve learnt that awkward doesn’t hurt you and I can survive it. Contrarily when I’ve opted out of ‘doing feelings’, they’ve caught up with me and bitten me on the backside. I’ve had my fair share of being bitten, so, nowadays I try to prevent this from happening, by yes, you’ve guessed it – talking about how I feel.

So back to the question at hand, how am I coping with all of this? To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Some days, I feel like I’m doing perfectly “fine”. Let me explain my fine. The biggest change for me at work has been that we are no longer able to work face to face with people. This means that all clinical sessions, staff supports, meetings, assessments and supervisions are now conducted online via Teams. Basically, I spend most of my days on Teams. Prior to all of this, I’ve never used technology to complete a session, so not only is this my first pandemic, this is the first time I’ve ever worked this way.

I’ve resisted online working in the past because as a therapist so much of what we do depends upon dealing with the feelings in the room. My own feelings act as a kind of sat-nav for navigating the feelings in the session. We call this transference and my stance has always been, I need to be in the room to get this. So, when we first got told to work from home my initial response was well, I can’t do therapy as I don’t have one of the most important tools that I rely on. I don’t like it when I don’t know what I’m doing, it makes me anxious. I managed this by consulting the guidance and trying to find out everything I could about online ways of delivering therapy. I read a lot and I spoke to colleagues who have done this before but mostly it just left me unsatisfied because I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.

Now in the very initial days of the lockdown, I probably wasn’t that fine actually – all the changes felt overwhelming and for someone who usually prides themselves on dealing okay with change – I couldn’t understand why I was struggling. It took a friend to highlight to me that this wasn’t like change I’ve ever experienced before. Yes, there was changes to the way I work, but alongside this I couldn’t leave my house, I couldn’t see loved ones, I was also playing various what if’s in my head. The biggest one being what if my loved ones in the ‘vulnerable group’ got COVID-19? Weirdly, I think the lockdown helped me as it contained my biggest anxiety and that is what if I’m the person to give somebody else coronavirus and they die? Being told not to leave my house helped me manage this fear as prior to that I was still completing sessions, going to wards/houses and also seeing those loved ones in the vulnerable group. So, my friend was right, I’ve never experienced change like this so it made sense why the early days were so tough.

Now, I’m more settled. Yes, completing sessions online is different but it’s nowhere near as bad as what I thought it was. I’ve had difficulties with my internet so it’s been cutting out more frequently than you would hope for, usually in the poorest of timed moments, so that’s been a bit stressful. It’s also very different to have work in your own home. If it’s been a difficult session, meeting etc, usually I can deal with it by leaving it at work, but quite literally now I cannot escape it. Instead I have to live with it in my home. I’ve found this more difficult than what I thought I would.

Working from home is therefore a tricky one. On the one hand I acknowledge and am grateful for the fact that I am still able to work from the comfort and safety of my own home, whilst others do not have the opportunity, but it does also come with its own challenges. When we first got told that we’d be working from home, I thought great I’ll have more time to catch up with all those things that I can never quite get around to. How wrong I was. I don’t fully understand why but it feels like I’m busier than ever and often finish the day with the feeling that I’ve not been productive enough. This makes me feel like I need to work more in order to make up for it. I like to feel useful; I like to feel helpful and I like feeling productive. Working from home for me means that I don’t feel any of these things. I feel guilty that others have to go into work and face challenges that I do not, I feel helpless that I can’t support the teams or young people I work with in the ways that I would like to, I feel bad for not being there during a time when it would be really useful for people to show up and if I’m honest I feel I’m not working at my best.

Perspective is important and I’m working hard to manage expectations. The world right now is collectively experiencing trauma and therefore it doesn’t make sense to be at your best and to know what to do for the best. Currently, the best we can hope for is survival and we all have to find our own way to survive.

These are the things I’m trying to hold in mind to help me survive. Feeling in control is important to me so during this I’ve had to do something which does not come naturally to me and that is to accept, right now I have very little control. Some days, I’m better at doing this than others but I’m doing better than I ever thought I could. Judgement does not and will not help, nor is me working all hours because I feel like I’ve not done enough.

In discussing all the suggested activities for the young people during lockdown, a support worker commented the best moment of their shifts recently was when staff and young people were just sitting together in the garden talking. When we’re anxious, some of us respond by trying to do more but this reminded me that often it’s not about being exceptional or how much you do but it’s just about being there and having a shared experience. Social distancing isn’t conducive for this but as Paul Gilbert, founder of compassion focussed therapy, has highlighted, we can safely relate during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I’m trying to find ways to still show up even if it’s not in person or my best, it’s the best I can manage right now.

To the support worker who took the opportunity to check-in with me, thank you for reminding me that sometimes I need it too. Instead of feeling guilty for “having it easier”, I’m trying to practice feeling gratitude for the things I’m fortunate to have. I’m also trying not to rubbish my feelings because “others have it worse than me right now”, it doesn’t help them if I do this and it certainly doesn’t help me.

In writing this blog I’ve realised that I don’t think I am fine actually. Whilst I think I am adapting to this new normal, it doesn’t mean I’m fine. It doesn’t mean that it’s normal because it’s not, nor do I want it to be. Instead, a more accurate response to the question is I’m surviving and I’m learning. One of the things I’ve learnt is I have a lot of things I’m grateful for.

Here are some of the things that I’m grateful for at Care in Mind: I’m grateful to the residential staff that are showing up to support our young people, even though this may mean placing yourself at risk-thank you for being courageous. I’m grateful to all the head office staff and management who are still working tirelessly to ensure that the young people’s care remains to a good standard and that residential staff have all that they need to ensure they remain safe. I’m grateful to my clinical colleagues for the random check-ins and helping me to remain grounded in what we’re trying to achieve, which is a better future for the young people we work with. I’m grateful to Maggie (Service-user Co-ordinator) and Dom (Best Practice Facilitator) for trying to ensure that there remains a place for fun and play amidst the uncertainty. I’m grateful that we have the technology that allows us to remain connected. I’m also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing young people. Whilst much of what we’re trying to achieve is to support young people through difficult times, the current pandemic has shone a light on that they have much to teach us also. So, I’m grateful to learn from their courage, strength and resiliency-they have this surviving thing nailed.

Writing this blog has felt cringe and a bit exposing; it’s also my first time at writing a blog so it’s yet another thing that I don’t really know what I’m doing. The reason why I did it is because I’m witnessing lots of compassion towards others, especially at Care in Mind, but I am worried that people sometimes forget to take care of themselves. It doesn’t come naturally to many of us to acknowledge our own vulnerabilities and during an international pandemic, it’s easy to dismiss them as unimportant or compare ourselves to others who have it worse. So, I just wanted to show there is space for your feelings/vulnerability and it doesn’t take away space from others. Our vulnerability is the thing which unites us in humanity, and it will be this which allows us to safely relate during these testing times.

I hope everyone stays safe and remains connected; doing the best you can do right now-whatever that might be.