The vital role of social workers in recovery

Our patients' recovery is driven by many factors beyond psychiatric therapy and treatment. Support from our social workers is often a vital part of the process, as this patient story shows:

Annie* was admitted to St Andrew’s in 2011 and was soon diagnosed with an emotionally unstable personality disorder. In the run up to her arrival, Annie had a number of convictions for burglary, theft and assault. During this turbulent time, Annie was also misusing a number of substances, which developed into drug dependency.

At one of Annie’s lowest points, she lost control and assaulted her mother. Whilst in custody her behaviour rapidly deteriorated and she had a number of violent outbursts which posed a risk to both herself and others. It became clear that Annie needed the care and treatment of a secure psychiatric hospital, not the punishment of a prison sentence.

On arrival at St Andrew’s Annie was repeatedly violent and aggressive towards other patients and staff. However, with the right therapies, medication and care plan in place, Annie’s behaviour began to stabilise. Over a four year period Annie stepped down from a medium secure ward to a low secure ward, to a locked ward and more recently to supported accommodation in the community.

With the support of her social worker, Annie also developed good relationships with her daughter and family, both of which have given her hope for a better way of life.

Sam Smith, who was Annie’s social worker during her stay at St Andrew’s, is very proud of how she recovered:

“It was fantastic to see Annie progress and improve month after month. The care, support, family work and safeguarding from the social work team really was a pivotal part of her recovery. We have even supported Annie with her relationship with her boyfriend.

“It’s fantastic to see the person Annie is today, compared to the vulnerable person she was when she arrived at St Andrew’s four years ago. Annie’s life has been transformed and she’s now living a fulfilling life in the community close to her loved ones.”

With more than 60 qualified social workers supporting patients from their admission to the time they’re discharged; social work is an essential part of the multi-disciplinary care and treatment programme for our patients. 

(*not her real name)