Postscript to assignment two

Graffiti art at Fusion Arts

Graffiti art at Fusion Arts

I have now been presented with a dilemma. The ‘cuts’ facing the NHS have always been, and perhaps always will be, a backdrop to any enterprise inside or outside of the ward. The “Echoes Group” is vulnerable and at the last meeting I was posed a question that I had, to a certain degree, been expecting – would I ‘run’ the Group? Two of the key figures may no longer be able to attend, one because he is considering undertaking an MA, though he isn’t the main concern, because he is the artistic lead and has said that he would still liaise with local artists to bring them into the Group for projects etc. The other is on the clinical staff and her loss is something I feel would feel uncomfortable in doing without as there is very little of her capability that I could cover.

If I say no, there may be a chance that the group folds through a lack of a leader and if I say yes the group continues but with someone I feel is eminently unqualified to manage it. A ‘no’ from would perhaps deny these users with an outlet that they clearly value; an outlet that provides them an opportunity to mix with others in the community in a safe environment, in a creative way that stimulates them and that provides them with something that they value and which gives them some pride and self worth – something which is becoming increasing rare for them in a society that will continue to marginalise them in the name of cost efficiency.

If I say yes, then the group will continue, at least for a while – until the next crisis (it has to be said that the community space that hosts the group is under threat of closure through lack of funds through cuts earlier this year). And I am very tempted to say yes, especially if that was the only issue, but of course it isn’t. Whilst I have gained the confidence of all the users, both clinical and non clinical, I have no background /training/expertise in dealing with any or all of the situations that might arise. These users have a variety of conditions, that for the most part I have no real comprehension of and many have supplementary medical conditions that are completely separate from their mental health issues. Outside of those concerns there are of course liability issues, which , from a financial aspect could be covered off by insurance etc, but would that be acceptable in a practical way to both my conscience and the relatives of the users?

I am, therefore, in a quandary. A yes might allow the group to falter on, a no might accelerate it’s demise. A yes, might allow some time to find a better longer term solution, a no might force the group’s management to find that solution earlier. Of course it is no matter that I have planned to use my experience with this group to inform my assignments with this course – I am sure now that I could invest somewhere else, I am certainly not going to make my decision in order to give me a better chance to fulfil my course aims.

This Tuesday’s meeting might be interesting……….

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10 thoughts on “Postscript to assignment two

  1. John, this is very disturbing and I wouldn’t like to have to make your decision. On a purely practical note, I wonder whether a major fundraising exercise might be feasible? Or whether organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society might be able to contribute (though, of course, you wouldn’t want them to control what goes on in the group). Fingers crossed for Tuesday!

    • Yes Jill, it is concerning. The Community centre is already in the midst of a fund raising campaign, but the NHS issue won’t be solved with fund raising, it is about where they distribute their ever diminishing resources – and that may be away from this group. Time will tell.

  2. John, I am curious. Are you the only candidate for the job or they are hiring people with the required background and hoping to have you to act as an interim? I am not sure how the medical program works here. However, even if I am willing and there is a lack of staff, no one will let me perform surgery of cancer patients given that I have no medical knowledge at all.

    • The job would be unpaid, and yes I am probably the only candidate at the moment – certainly the easy choice as I have a Honorary contract with the NHS and have all the clearances to work with the users. However, as you point out, no experience or qualifications in the medical conditions….

  3. Difficult one John. I guess looking at it objectively I think the issue of experience and qualifications for dealing with people with these medical conditions is concerning. I wonder if this might be a problem for any third party liability insurance cover. I think it would be quite risky in these litigious days to take it on without clarity on the insurance question. I was wondering if a compromise might be possible..you taking it on for an agreed and communicated short period whilst the long term is resolved. Personally however much my heart might say otherwise I would not take this on unless the personal liability issues were clarified to my satisfaction. I would also want to place some limitation on my involvement…..this of course my personal view and I don’t have your inside knowledge. Good luck on Tuesday.

    • Thanks Keith, I hadn’t thought of a fixed period offer, but I would still be nervous about the liability issue. I really want to help and will continue to provide whatever support I can, but not as the leader I think.

  4. Some good advice there John. It would be a real shame if such a project wasn’t able to continue. I’m just wondering whether there are any psychology students (or from other appropriate disciplines) doing further degrees who could be involved in the project.
    Fingers crossed for Tuesday.

    • I have a few calls to make and will ask the users that I want to work with on a collaborative portrait project in any case. But we’ll see.

  5. As well as the benefit to the clients, there’s also potentially a benefit to carers – giving them some respite, something I know is very valuable from personal experience. The Alzeimer society (as Jill mentioned) might be worth approaching – they were really helpful in providing a person who came to sit with my family member for respite, I’m not sure what training their staff have, obviously they have some … I know they’re not medically qualified. Anyway it might be worth someone contacting them – if you had someone alongside you with some kind of dementia support training it might make it less scary!

    • Of course you are right Anne, the carers also gain a huge amount from this group, almost respite care. The trouble with me providing the suggestion is that I might be implicated in the liability issues, which I want to avoid for the simple reason that I don’t know enough about the subject to make any recommendations. I suppose Tuesday will come and go without any resolution which will leave one session left before the summer recess – I suspect we will end the year not knowing if there will be a new term start in September….

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