Beyond the Label Conference a great success

On Wednesday 13th March the team at Cygnet Churchill, our high dependency mental health rehabilitation service in south London, hosted their latest in a series of one-day events on the ‘Challenges in Complex Care & Psychiatric Rehabilitation’.

Called ‘Beyond the Label’ the theme of this particular event was on the critical importance of relationship in psychiatric recovery. The event was attended by over fifty commissioners, care managers, discharge coordinators and clinicians from hospital and community teams from across London and the Home Counties.

Ben Davidson, Cygnet’s Business Development Director for London and the South, introduced and chaired the day. Ben described how, when he asked the team to identify some aspect of their work they felt passionate about and might want to present, colleagues from every clinical discipline chose more or less the same theme – the importance of seeing the person beyond the label, and finding ways, however hard, to connect with them.

“I think the team did a terrific job. It was, I felt, an enjoyable, educational and productive day. I am sure it would benefit lots more people in the industry.”Alberto Simon, Associate Discharge Coordinator, Springfield Hospital

The morning’s presentations focused on the importance of relationship as a tool of healing. First, Emily Courtier (Lead OT at Cygnet Churchill) talked about the role of Occupational Therapy in helping reconnect patients with the wider community through meaningful occupation. Doreen Hoerold (Lead Psychologist at Cygnet Blackheath) and Kumba Yarjah (Head of Care, Cygnet Churchill) followed with a moving account of their work with a patient whose multiple personalities needed a uniquely containing environment and authentic level of engagement to recover his identity.

The afternoon’s sessions were about hurdles we face with a chronically impaired client group to maintain this stance – how do we maintain therapeutic optimism, keep a wide-enough perspective and a hold onto a proper appreciation of the level of effort required for patients to re-connect.

Omer Malik (Consultant Psychiatrist) described the importance of taking time to understand patients’ experience and find ways to relate. An example he gave was the relationship he forged over games of table tennis that were potentially as important as medication review in helping one patient through a dramatic transformation after decades in psychiatric services.

Jamie Thomas (Lead Forensic Psychologist) talked about the need to focus on the person rather than the diagnosis, the overall care pathway rather than just the treatment package; and the family and social context rather than just the patient in isolation. And Susana Lara (Clinical Psychologist) described the team’s award winning work with Chat Café, a drop-in psychology innovation that has had remarkable results in achieving buy-in to psychology generally from a particularly disengaged client cohort.

Delegates fed back that it had been one of the best conferences they’d been to. The weaving together of the presenter’s themes and overall cohesiveness of the day was remarked up. The team also receive positive feedback for the depth of care that came out through the case studies all the presenters shared, and the simple togetherness of the team also impressed.

Well done to Ben and the team Cygnet Churchill for arranging, hosting and presenting the event.

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