Lorna Robertson reflects on her first six months in post as a Community Links Practitioner with the Links Worker Programme
To think it was six months ago already since myself and the other seven new community links practitioners sat nervously around a table on our first day at the Health and Social Care Alliance is crazy. Since then we have all had a whole host of different experiences, supporting individuals in the most deprived areas of Glasgow with some highly complex and emotive situations. Each day and each individual’s needs are different, which is one of the many aspects that I love about this role. Each and every referral I have received since I started has required a person centred approach to allow the individual to feel fully supported. To feel truly understood and listened to is immensely powerful. For so many of the individuals that we support, this can be the beginning of them really feeling able to open up about their problems and speak about what really matters to them. The fact that we have time to spend with them, listening to their situations and helping them to work through their problems is such a huge advantage and really makes the difference to the working relationships that we are able to establish with the people who we support.
I have felt supported within my role, both by The Alliance, and also by my GP Practice Team. Given that we spend the majority of our week in and around the practice, I was all too aware when starting of the importance of creating good relationships fairly quickly with the team. Having never worked in primary care before, I have to say I was a little apprehensive before starting about getting to grips with the different systems and processes, something that had been discussed during our initial two week induction. By being based within the GP practice, there is the opportunity to speak to a GP/nurse/drug worker etc about a particular case, which I have found to be particularly helpful in enhancing my knowledge and understanding to be able to more fully support the individual with their issues. This has also helped me gain an insight into particular difficulties or needs that can arise as a result of conditions. I also feel more confident with general processes and procedures and have developed an idea of who in the team/local community has expertise in different areas so that I am able to find the information required to move on with a case and support the individual as quickly and effectively as possible.
I now feel fully embodied within the Practice and feel valued as a member of staff working there. Whilst medication is, undeniably for some, an important part of recovery and definitely required, there is also a massive benefit that therapeutic support can have to individuals. This view has been embraced by the GPs within my practice and they will regularly refer individuals to me who they feel could benefit from this approach. By providing access to various non-clinical services, there is an opportunity to go beyond simply improving the health of an individual. There is a chance to offer tools to help people confidently control their health without a reliance on primary care, allowing them to feel more responsible for their own health and therefore more empowered.
The support we provide on a daily basis in turn can mean that we too need someone to listen to us, guide us, and encourage us. We support some of the most vulnerable people in our society and are regularly faced with distressing situations. We witness the reality of poverty, abuse and addiction on a daily basis, something that, at times, can be difficult to detach from at the end of the day. Cue our weekly Monday morning meetings, an opportunity to discuss situations from the past week, seek peer support from fellow Linksters, and hear from a guest speaker about the supports or services that they provide in local communities. Additionally, all the CLPs meet regularly with our line manager for supervision and support. On top of this, I know that I can contact any of my colleagues at any time if I need help with a particular case, or even if I just need someone to talk to about a hard day (or a good one!) I can honestly say I have never felt so supported in any other job role I have had.
I am so grateful for the role that I am now in, enabling myself and my colleagues to practically support individuals most in need. To sum up the last six months…“Time flies when you’re doing what you love” – I think that’s certainly true for us CLPs!