Aug 15, 2013
Having ‘meaningful occupation’ is central to everyone’s identity, sense of purpose and satisfaction with life. An income is a definite bonus, especially at a time when welfare benefits are changing and paid work is certainly the ambition for most people with or without a mental illness. The enormous pressures the government is placing on people to get a job shouldn’t skew consideration about what is best for each service user.
No Health Without Mental Health (2011) and Recovering Ordinary Lives (2007) highlight the importance of vocation and working as partners with service users. Care UK is committed to empowerment and recovery.
Recovery has been defined as: "a deeply personal, unique process of changing one’s attitudes, values, feelings, goals, skills, and roles. It is a way of living a satisfying, hopeful, and contributing life even within the limitations caused by illness. Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the catastrophic effects of mental illness" (Rethink 2013)
With this in mind, Tariro House decided a positive and creative way to assist service users on their recovery journey was to employ them as members of the team at the hospital, in various roles. They had to submit a CV, have an interview and complete a CRB form.
Two service users, John* and Sam* both have roles within the domestic team and take great pride in their work. They are prompt, thorough and reliable. John will happily cover shifts when the head housekeeper is on holiday, working full time. John and Sam have attended training and John has even facilitated training sessions. He is a strong voice within the service and regularly encourages his fellow service users to take more pride in their appearance and in their environment.
Tariro House also employs a service user to purchase fruit and vegetables for the service from Spitalfields Market. This involves getting up at 5am, booking a taxi, bartering with tradesmen and picking top quality produce for the best price.
We decided to celebrate their achievements with a small party, where healthy snacks and drinks were provided and the manager presented them with their payslip. Other service users were invited and their accomplishments were discussed and applauded.
An increase in self-confidence of the service users has been noticed by the team and other service users. Service users who are involved in work have indicated they would like to continue with employment upon discharge from Tariro House and they have also identified educational programmes they would like to participate in, to further increase their employability outside Tariro House, something they had not considered before.
Other service users have also seen the benefits and have enquired about vocational opportunities both in the hospital and the community. They have asked for assistance on meeting their vocational needs.
All service users on the unit were invited to share in their achievements and since then another job has become available, with interest from several service users. Interviews will be held soon for a fourth post of kitchen porter.
Upon leaving Tariro House, these service users will receive a good reference which they will be able to take on to another employer.
By making training inclusive for both the team and service users, we are breaking down the barriers of a “them and us” culture. Service user’s opinions are valued and encouraged at both training and community meetings.
It is fantastic to see service users taking pride in their work and taking ownership of their recovery.
What our service users had to say about this:
Sam: “I was really pleased to receive my first pay cheque. Making my own money makes me very happy.”
John: “Very rewarding - A good experience”.
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