Sally’s mum was admitted to Rowan Lea ward at Cross Lane Hospital, Scarborough, last year. Here she shares how a carers’ support group helped her and her mum get the support they needed.
Misconceptions about mental health wards
“I have no experience of a mental health hospital and unfortunately my only imaginings were those created by what you see represented on the TV and in films,” said Sally.
“The prospect of my mum being admitted was scary, especially during a pandemic when I was unable to see where she was and what it was like.
“Thankfully my experience to date has burst all those myths and I am delighted by how much care and thoughtfulness I have experienced by every single person I have spoken to – and there have been many who have been involved in her care.”
Sally received a call from Friends of Rowan Lea carers’ support, which gives family members and carers the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
Initiated by staff on Rowan Lea ward, the support was set up to ensure that carers felt recognised and involved in the care of their loved ones.
Dedicated support for carers
The group would usually meet face-to-face once a month, but due to COVID-19 restrictions they run a weekly dedicated telephone support with carer liaison nurse Laura Blake.
Sally, whose mum has now been discharged, continued: “I was impressed right from the outset when Laura called to introduce herself from the carers’ support group, offering her support to me in the form of a constant source to speak to about anything, particularly focusing on how I was feeling as the relative of an inpatient and what the impact on me might be.
“I had no idea that something like that would exist and amazed that the thinking went beyond just the patient.
A listening ear
“Every week without fail Laura phoned to check in. She provided me with updates about my mum, listened to me go on at length, which I know I did, but she never gave me the feeling that I was taking up her time and she allowed me to offload whatever was on my mind.
“She has an excellent ear and is a great listener with a lot of patience. She was always happy to find out anything I wanted to know and followed up with the team on the ward with any comments or suggestions I made.
“Even when she was on holiday she organised for a colleague to call in her place. This showed the all-round commitment of the team and also the respect they had for Laura.
“Knowing the right person to call with a question is daunting, so it was great to have one person dedicated to help resolve any questions or concerns.
Feeling heard and understood
“I must also mention the whole team at Rowan Lea and how much time they spent talking to me to get a really good idea of my mum and how best to support her.
“Even with the challenges of the pandemic, at every stage I felt I understood and was involved in my mum’s care.
Find out more about information and support for carers
A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
If you care for someone using our services, you can read more about the support available to you on our information and support for carers page.