Guest Post by Maria
I was recently at a SUN meeting where I was fortunate to hear a lady speak about writing her own care plan; I found this heartening and was delighted when our paths crossed again thanks to social media. Maria agreed to write about her experience of writing her care plan and the effects it has had. She is keen to share her experience and hopes it will help other people……..
How did it come about?
I had just come out of a really dark and difficult period and was trying to move forward the best I could. My CPN (community psychiatric nurse) and I were talking about my care plan and how ineffective it had been through this time. I expressed my frustration and annoyance at past care plans and how I’d never found them helpful as they were often filled with others perceptions of me, their interpretation of what my life needed, what my goals should be and their beliefs in what would be helpful in my crisis. Non of them were true reflections of me or what I’d find helpful.
So my CPN handed me a template care plan and said I could read it through and write as much as I’d like, the things I feel should be or want to be mentioned and what I felt would benefit me in crisis. We agreed I would do what I could and she would edit, add to and finish off.
After reading through I found myself excited at the prospect of answering the questions posed. With only recently coming out of a crisis I was able to draw on that experience and what I’d found useful/helpful.
I soon found myself writing each section, my history, my aims, goals long and short term, a true description of myself and my life. What I believed to be my difficulties and how best to deal with them.
I wrote my crisis plan like never before with real difficulties and a realistic approach for all.
To my astonishment my CPN read it and didn’t change a thing.
What difference has it made?
It gave me a massive sense of control and the strength I needed to stand up and say “I can do this, it’s in my hands.” It was a significant turning point for me were I realised my recovery was up to me and no one else. That services were there to support me whilst I worked on making changes to improve my life and manage myself.
Writing my care plan challenged me to really look inwards and think about myself. To really think about what I found difficult and what I think will help. It also made me think of the things I would like to happen and goals I could obtain. It gave me a glimmer of hope that recovery was a possibility.
My Care plan was now something that gave me an aim, a clear focus on the areas I needed to work on to achieve the things I wanted for myself. It also made me more aware of the behaviours and patterns I’d established that were unhelpful and the things I could do to help me manage my day to day life.
The most significant area I’ve truly benefited from is my crisis plan which is more fitting to my personal needs and how i react in crisis. I wrote it stage by stage and what to do to help me depending on the depths of my despair. I believe it was most helpful to myself because in crisis I’m no longer “rational” me and I find it incredibly difficult to trust anyone, therefore I could read it and trust what it said as it was my rational self who’d written it. This made it easier to accept and follow making the really difficult times shorter in length and better managed.
What key message would you give to other people about writing care plans?
Service users have to be involved in their care plan. A CPN and service user need to work together to collaborate a care plan that’s a true reflection of the service user with realistic goals, expectations and what’s effective short and long term, crisis or not.
Services need to trust and understand that we know ourselves better than anyone, therefore ask us what’s helpful and unhelpful. Ask us what we want to change, ask us what our recovery looks like because we know better than anyone.
Service users need to take charge of their recovery and accept the professionals role. Services are there to help, support and understand as much as possible but can not nor will not make you better. Only you can can make recovery happen with the right support, so let your care plan be the start.