We spoke to Alison Guyatt and Helen Bennett from The Gellinudd Recovery Centre about not having a reception desk and staff sitting down with guests to eat ...
- What? A 16-bedded recovery focused centre for people who need to prepare for more independent living. It’s for people who have been in a traditional hospital type setting or perhaps people who’ve tried to become more independent but have failed
- Where? Pontardawe, Wales
What’s your ethos?
“Our emphasis is very much on empowerment and coproduction and working together with the service user so that they can achieve their own goals with confidence.”
How are you different from a traditional hospital?
“We haven’t got a reception desk. Instead the first thing will be a cup of coffee, a sit down and a chat, something to eat and a look around. It’s a lot less intimidating because coming into hospital is a very frightening experience. People are worried and thinking ‘will I ever feel better?’.
“We employ peer support workers - people with a lived experience - registered nurses, occupational therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists but although we have distinct roles we also do everything. We don’t employ cleaners or kitchen staff. We all shop, decide what to eat, prepare food and sit down together. We have a wood and we encourage getting out and about and fresh air and activities.
Do you think the language a service uses is important?
“Yes, what is traditionally called a ‘step down house’ we have called our ‘step up house’. We decided that ‘step down’ was a negative term when actually people are improving. We call the people who come to us our ‘guests’ not ‘patients’. We all use the same facilities in the main part of the centre and nothing is labelled ‘staff’.
"The rooms are named after nature like the ‘buttercup suite’, we don’t have room numbers. We want it to be as homely as possible.”
How do you encourage your guest’s independence?
“In a traditional setting patients will have their utilities paid form them, our guests pay their own utility bills in the Step Up house. It’s all about gaining independence. We make sure that opportunities are available to do things that they like which aren’t expensive, like swimming at their local council swimming pool.
"We encourage people to gain qualifications while they’re with us. We can train our guests as peer support workers, giving them the opportunity to come back and work for us if they wanted to. We’ve also linked into the local college and for those who can’t attend the college,the college comes in to provide training in our environment.
What’s your biggest challenge?
“I think our biggest challenge is encouraging people to leave when they’re ready to leave. But right from day one our emphasis is on how can we prepare for a really good discharge to get away from over reliance on our service. It’s about helping people to move on and do what they want to do themselves rather than us having an idea of what they should do.”
Find out more about the The Gellinudd Recovery Centre