In this section:
This year, why not enjoy a day out at a National Gardens Scheme garden - you'll be helping fund the QNI too!
Providing vital funding for projects that help improve patient care.
Visit our nursing heritage website, a celebration of District Nursing around the world since 1859.
I arrived at Gordon Road to be greeted by Liz, the Dual Diagnosis Team Administrator. She introduced me to Mark and Amanda, who are both Band 7 nurses, with experience in the forensic sector of mental health work. The Dual Diagnosis Team form part of the services offered by St John’s Housing Trust and are based in Lowestoft, covering the Waveney area (in Suffolk). A dual diagnosis is when someone has a mental health condition (such as PTSD, schizophrenia, stress or anxiety) coupled with a substance dependency, which could be alcohol, street or prescription drugs. The combination of a mental health disorder and substance misuse can cause interdependence. Some drugs can be a cause of mental illness and some can exacerbate it and it can often be difficult to separate symptoms.
Mark specialises in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and anxiety and Amanda specialises in Personality Disorders. The team concentrates on using therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Solution-Focused Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) to support their clients. They also do a lot of work around anxiety management: “Many of our clients suffer with anxiety and depression,” Mark informed me, “and if we can help with the anxiety, life can become easier for the client and their substance misuse issues become easier to deal with in turn.”
They also deliver training to other healthcare professionals as well as front-line staff working in supported accommodation schemes. This can be on subjects such as personality disorder, self-harm and general mental health awareness.
I then went with Mark and Amanda to visit Bridge View, an information and advice centre run by St John’s Housing Trust. They have kitchen and washing facilities and computers for clients to use, as well as a comfortable area to relax and socialise. There is a lot of partnership work and other organisations use the centre as a base to provide support to clients. Both Mark and Amanda run drop-in clinics here on a weekly basis, as well as seeing people on a 1:1 basis. Also on hand at Bridge view are specialist support workers who provide assistance with issues such as domestic violence, housing and tenancy issues, making benefits claims and the centre also offer several personal development programmes. I went on a Friday when they hold a weekly discussion group. The idea behind this is to get the clients to engage with each other as well as the staff. The subjects ranged widely and a lively debate is often had! The place had a really friendly, relaxed feel to it and there was a lot of banter going on.
I then accompanied Amanda to the Fyffe Centre, a supported accommodation scheme housing up to 27 single homeless adults at a time. Food is provided and there is a communal dining area and a large, comfortable-looking lounge for residents as well as a garden and shed that doubles as a workshop. Each resident has their own room and they are able to stay for up to 2 years. There is a huge demand for the service and, while I was there, someone called in as they had been made homeless and needed somewhere to go.
In addition, St John’s Housing Trust also has a direct access hostel for young people aged 16-25, and several other supported housing schemes in Lowestoft (Coppice Court for homeless families, Haven Court for young single or expectant mums). They also operate schemes in Great Yarmouth (Admiralty Terrace for Prolific and Other Priority Offenders (PPOs) and Thetford (John Room House, housing single homeless adults).
I really enjoyed my visit and would like to thank all the staff and clients’ that I met and everyone that made me a cup of tea!