My name is Tracie and I am a Recovery Coach for Talking Matters Northumberland (TMN). I work in the Recovery Team and am based in Alnwick, although I travel throughout North Northumberland.

In a nutshell, my role involves working one-to-one and in groups with people who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health difficulties. The role is varied as each person will have differing needs. However, sessions usually commence with goal setting and putting plans in place to achieve goals. In this way of working we can enhance social engagement, improve quality of life and reduce isolation. Another part of the role involves ‘asset mapping’, which involves sign-posting people to other support and services.  We endeavour to have the most up-to-date knowledge of what is on offer and how to refer or access activities and support in the community.  This can include support groups, health trainers, workshops and learning opportunities.

I began my journey with TMN as a volunteer in May 2017 and applied for an employed role within a year. Below is an example of a typical day in my life as a Recovery Coach with TMN:

A typical day starts with a visit to the office. At 9am I log on to check for any messages from service users regarding changing appointments or planned activities. I check emails and telephone messages, recording any actions taken, as well as the Recovery Coach waiting list; if there are individuals waiting, I arrange an initial appointment. Normally I would also have a quick check in with any Clinicians or Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners regarding potential referrals or any co-working activities, for example, special interest groups. If there is no time in the morning, I do this in the afternoon before going home.

I also use this morning slot to complete any administration or client records/session notes from yesterday’s appointments. So this morning, I completed a set of session notes from a final session and completed a discharge for the client. They have completed graded exposure work and have developed a routine which involves attending a weekly support group and daily dog walking. I’m really happy for this client, as they have worked really hard to ‘get out’ and engage again with life. I received a lovely ‘Thank you’ card and message from them – the ultimate job satisfaction! 

Before setting off to my appointments, I check that I have all my equipment - mobile, laptop, ID badge and G24 (a lone worker safety device) together with any relevant resources for use within sessions, e.g. questionnaires, useful contact numbers and self-help booklets.

10am: Travel. I aim to arrive at the venue 10- 15 mins before a group session starts. I update my G24 device on my change of location (this helps my team track me and ensure I’m safe while I’m working away from the office). This morning I am co-facilitating a low self-esteem group with a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therapist, so we go through the plan for the session which runs until 12.30pm. We are delivering week 2 of a 10 week course. Group work offers a great opportunity to learn from service users and therapists, and I enjoy group work.

12.45pm: I have lunch and use the time to reflect on how the group went with the CBT therapist.

1.15pm: Check emails, then head out into the community for one-to-one support sessions. Travel time between sessions is normally about 30 minutes, and I update my G24 on each change of location.

My first appointment is meeting a client in a café for their second one-to-one session, to review ‘homework’ which involved them researching and choosing three things to get involved in based on the values and goal setting work done at our last session. The main focus for this client is what’s called behavioural activation work. I also have some referral information from local Health Trainers, because the client shared with me that their weight gain is a barrier to getting involved in social activities and developing new friendships. The Health Trainers can offer the client support with weight management at their local GP surgery. We complete the referral questionnaire, and no risk is identified, so they will be able to meet with the Health trainer soon. Our next appointment will be in two to three weeks’ time due to the client’s work and family commitments. I’m pleased that the client was noticeably more relaxed today; there were more smiles and chat.

My second appointment is meeting another client at their local leisure centre. The plan is for them to complete a free induction and for us to review their progress. This is their third sessions with me; they were referred to recovery work as they were struggling to set any meaningful goals within therapy. Three specific goals were identified; start playing badminton again, try one other leisure activity and join an art group or workshop. The client completes an induction at the leisure centre and decides to try indoor climbing as part of next week’s ‘homework’.  Since our last session, they have reached out to friends to ask for a badminton partner and have had a positive response. This connection also led to a meet-up with old high school friends, which is very positive. We complete a review questionnaire and discuss risk to ensure there is no change to the client’s risk level, as well as arranging another session in two weeks’ time. The client’s goals are being achieved and they’re happy to continue working with me. Some other good news is that they have a job interview!

4.30pm: Complete some notes from this afternoon’s sessions. I make a call to a client who cannot make this week’s appointment due to strained ligaments, and we have a discussion around next steps.

At 5pm I turn off my G24 device and head home for the day. All in all, a good day shared with lovely people.

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