Self Management and recovery: It’s for everyone and that means everyone

Written by: Rhona Millar, Network Development Officer , the ALLIANCE

Published: 07/01/2019

Rhona reflects on work the Self Management team and Scottish Recovery Network did with a recovery group in Perth Prison in summer 2018.

As a Development Officer, my role involves getting out and about to find out what learning exists around self management approaches and to share this more widely. I, along with my Self Management team colleagues, are firm believers that self management is for everyone and although not everyone may have the capacity, self-autonomy or even desire to self manage, it is vital that they are still given the opportunity to do so.

To fully embed self management approaches across health and social care we need to ensure we understand what self management means for everyone. I am always looking to engage with groups we might not previously have worked with, so I was delighted when John from Scottish Recovery Network (this link will take you away from our website) invited me along to meet with a recovery group in Perth Prison. The group, known as Moving On In Recovery (MOIR), is run by the NHS Substance Use team that operate out of the prison and meets weekly; a space for the men in the group to support one another on their journey of recovery, build resilience and coping skills, as well as link in with other recovery groups and agencies that exist out in the community. Overseen by group leader Liz, there is a real sense of trust and safety in the group that otherwise may be difficult to find in the chaotic landscape of dealing with addiction and prison sentences.

We joined the group over the course of the summer to deliver Scottish Recovery Network’s Write to Recovery programme and I am pleased to share a short summary of some of the learning we gathered from the group members around self managing a long term condition with an experience of conviction. It was a fantastic experience to spend time with the group and I appreciate the guys in the group for being so open with John and I about their experiences. Together we explored topics with an emphasis on recovery and self management, and because of the existing safety within the group we were even able to explore the concept of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). From these discussions we could begin to explore wider questions. What does self management look like in the context of being within a prison? How do you empower people to self manage when there is often an entrenched sense of disempowerment?

The challenges facing people with experience of conviction once they are liberated to the community are complex, particularly from the perspective of health inequalities; the report Five Years On: RCN Scotland Review of the Transfer of Prison Healthcare from the SPS to NHS Scotland (this link will take you away from our website) highlights that ‘the prison population had profound health inequalities, with higher levels of physical and mental ill health, poorer prospects and shorter lives’. As our work progressed over the summer, I realised that we were only scratching the surface and whilst we haven’t answered some of these bigger questions, the learning points do provide a small snapshot of what recovery and self management can look like in a prison environment. It provides insight into the experiences of these men and the challenges accessing services and managing health upon liberation, as well as highlighting good practice happening in Perth Prison and their innovative approaches to recovery.

Self management is for everyone and our work over the summer with the MOIR group has continued to reinforce a wider acknowledgement that services and pathways must be designed with the people using them at the heart of them; and we must work collectively to break down the barriers that prevent people from accessing them.

You can read the full report by downloading the resource below.

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