Author Archives: dannyt1990

The Mental Capacity Act – What You Need To Know

The mental capacity act was only introduced in the year of 2005, which was something that has been long overdue. This is a guideline policy designed to empower and protect individuals who may have otherwise been stigmatised, and their choices limited because others may have deemed them as not being capable of making their own choices in life.

Here is the understandable and easy read version of the mental capacity act and it’s principles.

Why was the mental capacity act brought in?

The mental capacity act was introduced in order to remove any grey areas regarding a person’s capacity. Before it was introduced, there has been so many occasions where individuals have been wrongly judged as not having capacity because of a diagnosis.

For example, I worked in the healthcare industry prior to 2005 as a support worker. My speciality at that time was autism and I had the privilege of supporting four young adults, each with their own spectrum of autism. The unfortunate reality at that time is that because these people had a diagnosis of autism, they automatically had some of their rights taken away because it was assumed that they lacked the capacity to do so.

One of the guys we supported always had to have someone with him when he went out in the community because it was assumed that he lacked the capacity to go out on his own, there was nothing to legally protect us if anything happened to him when he went out so we couldn’t take a risk by making the decision to let him go on his own. Can you imagine being followed around 24/7 and never be left alone no matter where you went? Now imagine you had autism, how much worse it must have been for him to handle.

Thanks to the mental capacity act, he has now been deemed to have the capacity, despite the fact that he makes “unwise decisions.” The truism that was obvious to everyone, but nobody could do anything about, was that we all make unwise decisions a lot of the time. Should our right to make those unwise decisions be taken away? 

This is just one example out of millions of cases pre 2005 which needed to be addressed. While there is still a lot of stigma among the public, in the healthcare sector things have changed dramatically. Now people who have been diagnosed with autism, mental health problems, dementia, learning difficulties and much more have been freed from the shackles of assumption.

What if someone is deemed to lack capacity?

If an individual has been tested and does not have the capacity, then a best interests meeting will be held. The aim of this is to determine in which areas the person does not have the capacity in some areas and to support them in a way which is the least restrictive for them. 

Just because someone lacks capacity does not mean that all of their independence should be stripped from them. The main goal now is to find a way to empower them despite their ailments. This could mean concealing medication so that they are getting the help they need pharmaceutically, or it could mean that they are restricted as to where they can go on their own for their own safety.

One example would be someone who has learning difficulties. They may not understand the road signs which makes it dangerous for them to cross the road on their own, in this case, they would have a support worker with them to help them navigate and explore the world safely.

Legally speaking, if a company is responsible for the care of someone who lacks capacity, they have the right to make decisions on their behalf in the area which they need support. This can only be for their welfare and is only specific to the areas where the individual requires support to make decisions.

In other words, if our person with learning difficulties needs support crossing the road safely, that does not mean he needs us to support him and make decisions for him in every other area. He may be very capable when it comes to dressing himself for example so we would promote and encourage that person to dress without support. 

Mental Capacity Advocates

When someone lacks capacity, by law they will need to have an advocate to speak on their behalf. This is to prevent misunderstandings and safeguards that person from being taken advantage of. It is the responsibility of the advocate to ensure that the person who lacks capacity has all of his support needs in place correctly.

They will be liaising with support workers, social workers, health professionals and the council so that the individual has all of their needs met. This includes emotional and physical wellbeing, promoting independence, eating well and having access to the community.

Balancing these needs for the individuals can be challenging but that is why so many people are involved at each time. No matter how severe the person’s lack of capacity is, there is always something that can be done for them so that they can get the best out of life. As long as all of the people involved care enough and can use their creativity to solve problems then there is always a solution.


Working In Domiciliary Care As A Coordinator

By far and away, the most stressful position that I have yet to experience in the health and social care sector is a care coordinator for a large home care company. The pressure is immense. What you have as a care coordinator is an accelerating ageing population matched with bloated rules and regulations.

The healthcare sector is referred to as the hot potato sector because there is just so much liability on the companies/individuals if anything does ever go wrong. We are dealing with people’s lives after all, but you would think that the compensation would match the responsibility…it does not even come close.

So let’s break the job of a care coordinator in the domiciliary sector down a bit by bit. This will help you understand what is involved in the job if you ever wanted to try the job so that you know what to expect when applying.

The Carers

Carers are always a mixed bag. You will never manage to get a team of fantastic carers at all times. For some reason, the law of averages always throws in a few troublesome ones. You can generally tell early on who will be good and who will be a headache to manage, for some the work of a carer comes so naturally that you would think they had been doing it for years.

Other carers will start out making a lot of mistakes, but with the right guidance will eventually make excellent carers and these are the ones who go on to management because they tend to learn new things more quickly and retain the information when taught.

Then there are the carers who will never be good at their job, always miserable, always complaining about the office, always making the same mistakes and never learning from them – because they don’t want to. With the healthcare sector being as it is, you can’t just fire them either, carers are surprisingly hard to come by so you will need to learn how to manage their weaknesses. Mostly you can put them on the runs which you know requires less effort, or you can put them on a double run with an experienced carer to allow for their mistakes. 

Carers are your most important tools for effectively doing your job. Do everything you can to keep them happy, but at the same time make sure that you don’t let them take advantage. If they want a holiday and they haven’t given enough notice then don’t do it if you think they will not appreciate you going the extra mile. Be flexible where you can but only if the carer is willing to be flexible for you when you need them.

The Families

As a care coordinator, you will be working very closely with the families of those under your care. This can be an enormous help for you as the coordinator as most families will do anything for their family members, but it can also be one of the most stressful relationships a coordinator has to do as well.

For many families, a carer will never be able to do the job right no matter how much they try, not because of the carers competency but because the family will simply never be completely happy. 

Some family members you will never see until their mother/father passes away and the inheritance check comes in. This can be a heart-wrenching experience if you have provided care for the individual for so long and you watch on in disgust as their family members come on the scene as vultures tearing away at their whole life savings. 

There are also the family members who are really just appreciative to have the help of a carer. These are the best families to work with as you can get a lot done for the person you are providing care for. 

The Social Workers

Social workers are a funny bunch. Mostly they will spend their time calling you about any changes in care, trying to ask for time specific calls for their clients, relaying the families wishes to you, organising reviews and generally keeping you on your toes while coordinating the elderly clients care packages.

Unfortunately, the job of a social worker attracts a lot of self-righteous individuals who take it upon themselves to dig for dirt, even if it’s not there. They will charge into you with no evidence of wrongdoing or intentional bad care provisions because they can believe they are the saviour of the client. These are the bad social workers, the ones who make your job a lot harder but most importantly have a negative impact on the care being provided. When a social worker’s sole purpose is to try to find the negatives in care being provided, this creates a negative environment for the client.

Carers will not enjoy going into seeing the client because they know every move will be scrutinised and judged. That has a knock on effect onto the client who is then even more complacent about the care being provided, and the self-righteous social worker becomes even more active…vicious cycle!

I should stress that not all social workers are like this. Some social workers are pig ignorant and so appear to be rude because they don’t know what to do to help their client, then there are those who actually do try to do their best.

The good social workers never last long. They either get so frustrated with the social care sector because they begin to realise there is little they can do to influence things, or they get promotions or move on to more senior roles.

Drug And Alcohol Support Worker

Substance Abuse Support Worker Job Description

The role of a substance misuse worker is to provide emotional, physical and psychological support and advice to those of us in our society who are struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

The reasons why people turn to drugs and alcohol are very complex issues and no individual case is the same. Most of the time it is due to family breakdown, grievance, loss of job, loss of purpose and a general feeling of alienation from the world around them.

Substance misuse worker duties and responsibilities

  • Ensure that the residents are safe inside the complex with frequent checks of the building.
  • Do hourly checks on high risk patients in order to make sure that they are feeling OK and are mentally stable.
  • Perform 2 hourly checks on the building ensuring that it complies with health and safety policy procedures.
  • Make sure that staff and residents sign in and out every time they enter/leave the complex. This is essential for a number of reasons.
  • If a resident has not made contact within 3 days, you will need to report them as missing people. Make sure that the police have all of the required information on them (are they dangerous, vulnerable, attempted suicide).
  • Ensure that only those who have permission and have been authorized enter the building at an time.
  • Refuse entry to an resident if they are presenting aggressive behavior or they have drugs/alcohol on their person without permission.
  • Complete daily reports of the residents of the building, noting any changes, incidents or appointments as they come.
  • Do cleanliness checks on the residents rooms to ensure that they are complying with the house rules.
  • Carry out inductions for new residents or staff coming into the building. This will include fire safety information, showing them around the building and notifying them of the rules of the building.

Substance Misuse Worker Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Level 3 health and social care certificate at least
  • Clean criminal record
  • Normally 1-2 years support work experience
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Empathy for the residents you support
  • Good listening skills
  • High levels of patience, especially when speaking with substance misusers
  • Good computer skills

What to expect as a substance misuse worker

The patients will repeat themselves a lot – People who have abused drugs or alcohol for long periods of time tend to repeat themselves a lot. They will constantly talk and you won’t get much time to reply unless you pick your moment well. As a support worker you want to listen to them but at the same time don’t let them go round in circles for too long as they are not progressing when they do this.

They will test boundaries – If you are new, the residents will test you to see how much they can get away with when you are on shift. This is normal and all you need to do is state the rules and then let them know the consequences if they choose to go against it. If you make it clear to them that you will report any incidents then they will soon back off.

Emotional blackmail is used against you – In an attempt to get you to bend the rules for them, they will talk about how hard their life has been. After this, any normal person would find it hard to refuse to let them use the office phone to call their mum but that is what you will need to do. Chances are, they won’t be calling their mum at all but rather their drug dealer.

You need to check up on the residents – In settings like this its not uncommon to find someone lying on the floor after suffering from a fit or cardiac arrest. These are unwell people who are constantly at risk of taking an overdose or suffering the aftereffects of their unhealthy lifestyles. They are also emotionally unstable and frequently attempt to commit suicide. For this reason a lot of the residents will be on hourly watches which you will be expected to follow up on.

Substance misuse worker salary – The salary of a substance misuse support worker is generally pretty good. Ranging from $27,000 – $33,000. Of course, if you have extra training and are given more responsibility then this can go up.

Helping With Anxiety Disorders As A Mental Health Expert

Helping people dealing with anxiety

People who suffer with anxiety disorders generally become fearful of social interaction, phobias of certain objects or people or may have general anxiety about most things. This can be a crippling disorder without treatment and the person suffering from it will need a lot of support from friends and family.

Mental health experts will play a large role in helping the person get better as well of course. We will take a look at what each staff members role is in helping the sufferer get back to normal.

Mental health experts and their role in helping the patient

Support Workers

Keep the environment calm and relaxing – The last thing an anxiety sufferer will want is to feel uncomfortable in their own homes. Support workers will need to know the person they support well in order to minimize any disturbances that the person will feel uneasy about. The road to recovery can be long for anxiety sufferers and they may never get there if they are constantly on edge.

Be more helpful than usual – Support workers will want to be more helpful when dealing with anxiety sufferers. Unlike some settings you may have worked in where the resident is encouraged to do more for themselves all of the time, anxiety is not like that. It is a slow process. The reason anxiety sufferers do not do things for themselves is due to fear rather than defiance as you would get in other places. Because of that you should be more empathetic towards their needs. Of course you should always encourage them to do it themselves if they are comfortable doing so.

Work with other professionals – You will want to work closely with management, social workers, counselors and therapists to provide the best possible care plan to the resident. Don’t overstep the mark when doing your duties, you are there to carry out the residents care plan as it is set out. If the care plan has been proven not to work, or the residents needs have changed then you should report this to the manager.

Social Workers

Ensure the persons needs are being met – A social worker is the advocate for that person suffering from anxiety. They will be very involved in the care plan of the individual and will be setting up meetings with the resident and anyone involved with them to figure out the best course of action.

Make sure the person is happy where they are – Social workers will want to know if the person is happy in the setting they find themselves in and if it is suitable for them. If not, they should look at ways of improving the place they live first. If they cannot work out a solution then they will think about moving them to another setting which is more suitable for their recovery.

Find resources and ways to help the anxiety sufferer – Doctors appointments, specialist treatment plans, group therapy sessions and anything else which may be hindering the resident should be looked at to try to help the patient with their recovery program. Every anxiety sufferer is different so this will need to be the right one for them for it to work as intended.

Anxiety Counseling

Find the reason for the anxiety – This is the most important first step for a counselor to find out. Once you know this, you can start to make a care plan which will be effective for the person. Not only that but the patient will not be able to recover unless they face up to the reason for their anxiety and actively tackle it themselves.

Look for something else – Anxiety sufferers may be suffering with some other forms of mental health problem as well. For this reason, it is important to make sure that anxiety is actually the only thing they suffer with. If they have some other mental health problem, that could be the cause of their anxiety which could make treating their anxiety pointless if it is just a symptom of something much bigger.

Let them know it is not permanent – Having a professional tell you that your ailment is not permanent can have a very positive impact on your mood. It can give the patient hope that if they can find a way of recovering, they can permanently rid themselves of the awful thing holding them back for so long. Don’t take this step for granted, it is a massive part of the recovery.

Introduce them to ways of dealing with anxiety – This can come in the form of helping them to control their thoughts or it can be teaching the person certain coping mechanisms which they can fall back on when feeling anxious or afraid. This helps them to deal with the anxiety better making it more likely they will try to do normal activities which inevitably leads to recovery.

If possible, avoid prescribing anything – The best recovery is a natural one. All drugs will do is mask the problem rather than finding a solution for it. It is much healthier to find the cause of the problem and deal with it rather than hiding it. Things like anxiety and depression are there for a reason. It is telling you that something is wrong and it needs fixing. If you simply eradicate the “feeling” without eradicating the cause then it will simply come back at a later date, or once you become immune to the drugs you were taking.

Helping with depression as a mental health expert

Working as a mental health expert with depression patients

Those who have been sent to mental health experts such as support workers, counsellors and therapists have generally now admitted that they are in fact depressed. They need your help and support to either minimize or completely rid themselves of the ailment of their depression and it is your job to help them.

Let us take a look at what each mental health experts job role is when it comes to helping our fellow brothers and sisters with depression. This will give us a better understanding of how to help the person with depression as well as our specific roles as professionals.

Support Workers

Support with independent living – A support workers job is not to wait on the resident hand and foot. Rather it is to help them lead an independent life. This is one of the most effective ways to help a person with depression. If they do things for themselves such as cooking, hygiene, training and anything like that then they can work towards getting better much more quickly. Support workers are to help the person with complex tasks which generally requires two people. Anything that the person can physically do themselves, they should be encouraged to do so.

Keep them from staying in solitude – Don’t take this to mean that the person should never be alone and that you should be knocking on their door every 10 minutes. What it means is that if the person with depression is spending all morning in their rooms, then it is probably because they are thinking negatively about the past rather than how to improve their future lot. This is where you as a professional will need to encourage them and help them to think of more positive things to do with their time which will improve their mood.

Motivate the person to complete agreed tasks – For example, if they have agreed a plan with their counsellor to look for jobs or partake in physical activities then you should be the one to motivate and remind them to do it. This may just be a friendly word or it could be to support them out in the community to do those things with them. There is nothing stopping you as a support worker bringing your gym gear and going with the person you support. If you can make the experience a positive one then they are far more likely to want to go again.

Report and feedback information to supervisor/management – Any incidents which happen such as attempted suicide or self harm will need to be documented and fed back to management. This is essential because they need to know what frame of mind the person is in so that they can help them better. Of course, you should always call for an ambulance if an attempted suicide was to occur.

Healthcare Management

Complete new risk assessments as information arises – If one of the residents of the house you manage has had a slip then you will need to write out a risk assessment for them if it was avoidable. For example if they had an injury prior to the slip which caused them to fall, then you would look at ways of reducing risk.

Monthly reviews of the resident – This is to manage progress and understand what is working and what is not working in their care plans. If anything requires change then you will have to discuss this with the person under your duty of care. You will then need to change it in their care plan once you have discussed it with the support workers, families of the resident and counsellors.

Supervise the support workers – Ensure that the support workers understand their role and are doing it effectively. Any information they need you should be able to either discuss it with them, or be able to refer where they will get that information. Nobody will expect you to be a walking dictionary but you will need to have a very good idea of healthcare in general.

Coordinate with support workers, counsellors, therapists for better care of resident – You will want to make sure that the lines of communication are open on all side for the good of the resident. Speaking with each health professional to make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done will be your responsibility as the manager.

Mental Health Counsellor

Diagnose the depression – It may seem obvious, but the counsellor will need to be sure that the patient actually does have depression to begin with. Not only that but depression rarely comes on its own. There will probably be another underlying cause of their depression. Depression is usually a symptom rather than a diagnosis.

Monitor ProgressAny progress that the patient is making you will need to be aware of because they will need positive reinforcement. If the patient believes that they are getting better then you will need to make it clear to them the importance of continuing with the lessons so that they do not cut off from their lines of support to early.

Find the reason for depression – You will want to get to the bottom of the depression. Depression is not usually something which comes for no reason and there are many triggers for it appearing. Some might be pretty obvious such as substance misuse, grievance etc. However sometimes depression comes from something much more subtle and you will need to try to figure it out with the patients help.

Let them know that they need to want to be helped – Helping with depression is pointless unless the person suffering from it is willing to work with you. The patient will need to realise that they must take responsibility for their own diagnosis and work hard to overcome it. Without this realisation, treatment will be impossible. A counsellor is there to help them to understand what they need to do, not do it for them.

Refer them to more treatment – There may be other forms of treatment that the patient might find helpful. Physiotherapy can be incredibly useful if the patient is suffering from physical problems. It could in fact be the source of their depression. This is one of the most important ways you can help the patient but you need to be sure.

Mental Health Counsellor

Licensed Mental Health Counsellor Job Description

The role of a mental health counselor is to offer guidance and support to individuals who are struggling through a particularly difficult period in their life.

The main objective you want to achieve is that the individual can only begin to get better is when they start to understand what it is that is holding them back and then taking responsibility to change their outlook.

Once they understand this, they can begin to make positive choices about who they let into their lives, have a positive image of their future and even a much improved way of looking at and dealing with the people who may have done them harm in the past.

Mental Health Counsellor Duties And Responsibilities

  • Work as the primary care giver for your resident ensuring that they are happy with the support they are being provided
  • Conduct mental health assessments on people to establish if they have mental health issues and what they are
  • Develop personal care plans for the people under your care
  • Lead individual as well as group therapy sessions
  • Running preventative mental wellness classes or workshops
  • Making treatment referrals for the patients

* A mental health counsellor may work in a school, government department, law enforcement agency or other external agency. Each setting will require a slightly different method.

Mental health counsellor requirements

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Masters degree in counselling or a mental health field
  • Previous experience in mental health (Support worker is excellent experience)
  • Have a required state license
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Ability to connect with people on a different level
  • Analytical approach when listening to the patient
  • Good moral character
  • Genuine caring attitude towards the people under your support

Working as a mental health counsellor

Some people need a wake up call – While the person going in may understand that something is wrong, they won’t always be willing to admit what is causing the issue. For example, a wife being cheated on may not want to admit it, but it will be your job to help them realise in a caring way. It will be hurtful for them at first, but once they have accepted it they can then finally put the pieces together.

Don’t end up needing counselling yourself – Working in counselling listening to everyone’s problems can be very disheartening. As a counsellor you will know ways of dealing with this but you will still need to watch out for depression creeping up on you. Nobody is immune to it, not even you.

Remember that they can be sent against their will – Not everyone who comes into your office is there on their own accord. Family members who are concerned about the wellbeing of their children may send them to you in an effort to get to the bottom of their problem. The problem with this is that there is nothing you can do unless the patient is willing to work with you. In these situations you will need to use your negotiation skills to great effect. Try not to talk about the issue and be more general at first to build some trust up. Once you get a relationship you can be a bit more direct, but not enough so that they shut down again.

Empathy is your greatest skill – If you can put yourself in their shoes, understand how they are feeling and use that to try to find a solution then this is half the battle won. Empathy is an essential skill for a good counsellor, without it you will find it nearly impossible to help the person because you cannot imagine how they are feeling. This is why most people who go into counselling have been through a tough time themselves and came out stronger for it.

Mental health Counselling SalaryYou can expect on average $41,000 for your skills and experience. The career outlook for counselling in general is a vastly growing market as well meaning you will never be out of a job. However, there is currently a large influx of people wanting to do counselling. This might drive wages down if they come into the same field as you.

Mental Health Support Worker

Mental health support worker job description 

Mental health support workers are an essential addition to the health care team. They are specially trained to understand how to speak with people struggling with various different  mental health problems.

Working with mental health can be draining but also very rewarding when you put what you learn into practice and see the positive effects it has on peoples lives.

Mental health support worker duties and responsibilities

  • Support individuals with mental health issues to live happy and independent lives both in their communities and homes
  • Work within a team of support workers to ensure that care plans are being followed
  • Work within the care policies, Cqc standards, health and safety standards set out by your employer
  • Use the person you supports individual care plan to ensure that he/she is being supported in the way that they want
  • Understand the mental capacity act and how it affects the people you support
  • Complete monthly reviews to ensure that the individual is progressing and find new ways to support them effectively
  • When necessary, DE-escalate the people you support using your conflict management training
  • Encourage the people you support to take an interest in work, training and community activities when reasonable to do so

Mental Health Support Worker Job Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Mental health certification level 3 or working towards
  • Able to work within a team
  • Ability to empathize with the people you support
  • Able to build professional relationships with staff and people you support without building personal ones
  • Good knowledge of mental health ailments
  • Experience in dealing with challenging behavior and a track record of DE-escalating it

Types of mental health issues you will be supporting people with

  • Mood Disorders – Depression, Bipolar, Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Split personality
  • Anxiety & Panic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is it like working with mental health as a support worker

The office politics can be unbearable – There is a lot of who said what to who. A lot of backbiting and career progressives thinking the best way to do this is to bring you down. This is unfortunately a part of the job and isn’t going away any time soon. The best thing you can do is just be as neutral as possible when someone starts complaining. 

There is such a thing as overly politically correct – To the point of alienating the people you support, your managers can crack down on what you say and how you say it. Using phrases such as “kicked off” or “wasn’t having any of it” may seem perfectly reasonable responses but it can land you in some trouble with your superiors. Unfortunately what you say seems to be more important for the motivation for saying it. This can be very robotic and can make the people you support unable to relate to you…They will eventually level it out but for now, know your politically correct phrases. Rather than “kicking off” use “presented challenging behavior” for example.

Dealing with mental illness can be draining – One of the biggest challenges for you as a support worker will be the effect that listening to peoples issues can have on you. Learning about how someone was sexually or physically abused can be really distressing. There is also the person you support in general. They can require constant attention from you meaning they will constantly be asking you questions and picking your brain about experiences and dealing with their issues.

The role attracts a lot of mentally unstable staff – Ironically enough, some of the people who think that they would be great at supporting people with mental health issues is those who have similar problems themselves. This is further from the truth of course because what the residents really need is stability and to be shown a better way of living and thinking. Staff who are unstable themselves can only add to the residents confusion about what is normal and what isn’t. 

Some settings are more intense than others – Depending on who you are supporting as well as the staff team you work with, each setting can vary wildly. For example, if you support a schizophrenic along with dealing with unhappy staff then the work environment can be unbearable. However, if you are dealing with happy staff with residents who have relatively mild mental health issues then you can expect a much more enjoyable time.

Plenty of career progression – Healthcare is one of those career choices where the sky is the limit. There are so many different avenues you can take such as management, specialisms, teaching and much more. There is also a constant demand for these professionals as well so you are more likely to have your education paid for.