Posted: Tuesday 12th May 2020
So much has changed at present that it seemed to us an opportune moment to make a change too, and begin to write our blog. We should probably begin by introducing ourselves and our blog: It is written in a spirit of wanting to engage in dialogue with others. For us, it is dialogue that generates creativity, and through feedback that we can discover whether our work is hitting its mark. The particular mark of our work is improving the lives, and mental health in particular, of children looked after in south Wales. We practice in the regional MyST (My Support Team) programme, which delivers an intensive specialist mental health service to children looked after with especially complex needs across the five Local Authorities and Aneurin Bevan Health Board of Gwent. We work to support children to live in (birth and foster) families instead of growing up in residential care homes, secure units and mental health inpatient settings. We do this by working in partnership in every way. We work with children and families as experts in their own experience, with genuine respect for their knowledge. We work with everyone in a child’s ecosystem, knowing that it all has to work to successfully work in an interconnected human system. We work with networks of professional colleagues across agencies to harness the potential of the whole system. And, we are commissioned, managed and funded through a partnership group of Social Care, Health and Education.
It might be useful for us to mention that we are coming from a foundation of being a mental health nurse (Jen) and a clinical psychologist (Jael). Our roles now are Programme Director (Jen) and Clinical Director (Jael) of the regional MyST programme. We were both trained and have worked within the NHS for 20-30 years a piece, and so our thinking and practice has been heavily influenced by the values, cultures, organisational contexts, professions and not least users of the NHS. Jen’s formative experiences include working very early on with vulnerable clients in psychiatric care and being heavily influenced by making meaning of their “illness” through their stories and life experiences. Jen’s other key formative experiences include working to establish multi agency networks and groups for families when this didn’t exist, and the power of the community as a resource for all in her work in therapeutic communities (more of this to come!). Jael’s formative experiences include working with children and families who have experienced repeated trauma and who live in poor socio-economic circumstances and as a result have highly developed skills in resourcefulness, survival, and ways to exist alongside oppressive misuses of power. Key formative experiences for Jael also include systemic psychotherapy practice and Zen Buddhism. We have shared doing this for a long time now, since 2004, so whilst we have certainly haven’t ‘cracked it’, we are a way along our journey of development and have begun to want to share some of the patterns and processes that we’ve noticed go around and come around, to see what others make of such matters too.
Our posts are written by one or both of us, and they are generated through our work at MyST. Our ideas are generated in many ways: Conversations with members of our team who are delivering this work with children, families and professional networks. Feedback from children and families about what they need and how they have achieved changes. Opportunities to reflect with our managers, clinical supervisors and the professional friends who inspire and encourage us. So what we post isn’t just ours, it’s a representation of what is going on here at MyST and all of those within our teams and our partners who are involved in making it happen. With the exception of our own names, names referred to in our posts are always changed so that others’ confidentiality is preserved. Indeed, although we refer to others in our writing, the posts are really our own stories of expression of what we see.
So watch this space. Here we all come!
Jen & Jael