On arrival, myself and Verity met for midday prayer which the spiritual care department take part in daily. After this we chatted together about what the placement would entail ,what I hoped to get out of it and where I saw myself going vocationally in the future after LST.
We then departed to Gainsford House, a slow rehabilitation unit which cares for patients with enduring mental health difficulties, generally for up to five years but sometimes longer. Verity presented the staff with a ‘Spiritual Box’ containing a variety of sacred texts and resources for lots of different kinds of spirituality from a book of Buddhist meditations to a collection of prayers for those who follow the Jewish faith. Using the box as a guide for the talk, she spoke about how spiritual care is often integral to recovery. The staff seemed quite receptive and one lady was outraged that only the Psalms and New Testament were included in the box – the reason for this (aside from space issues) is because some of the violent images in the Old Testament can be unhelpful for those suffering with psychosis et cetera. Although I only glimpsed a few patients, I found it quite distressing to see how very unwell they were. After this I travelled to the Shroddells Unit to meet Linda Nicholls, a former LST pupil who works as a volunteer lay chaplain and is a Community Psychiatric Nurse by trade.
I got lost on the way and struggled to park which stressed me out quite a bit and I was very apprehensive about going onto the unit, particularly considering my own history with the Whipps Cross psychiatric unit.
Once on the unit, I helped out at the craft group Linda runs. This terms’ project has been a wall hanging depicting the verse that God created the waters. I found this quite hard because one of the patients about my age and I was scared by the familiar thought ‘This could have been me’. Once the session ended I was utterly exhausted but pleased with how the day had gone.
I enjoyed relaxing with friends over for dinner that evening and relished the flat feeling like my own as I am flat-sitting for Simon and Suzy Bower for the fortnight.