Guest Interview with Community Development Worker
Rosalind, Monarch Butterfly interviews Odeta Panariti, exploring her role as a Community Development Worker and some of her experiences of working with clients who have a Personality Disorder diagnosis, 5th November 2014.
Community Development Worker
My main role is to promote recovery and to prevent social exclusion amongst service users with mental health issues, achieved in part by taking into account individual’s needs, wishes and by sharing with them relevant information so they can make well informed choices. I am passionate to support and empower vulnerable adults to improve their quality of life by maintaining independence.
I have extensive experience of working within a Healthcare setting, daily I am working with vulnerable people all of which have a mental health diagnosis, some of which have dual diagnosis and various physical disabilities as well as learning disabilities.
My role can be very demanding. I work with clients, their families and other Healthcare professionals, mental health clients needs are often quite complex. I deal with all situations in a professional manner and use my skill set, knowledge and initiative to get the best possible care and support for the clients I work with.
What experience do you have of working with Personality Disorder? We are particularly interested to hear about your experiences of working with clients who have a ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ diagnosis.
I have worked closely with clients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder some of which present with a complex range of difficulties that they face every day. The main symptoms for my clients who have been suffering are Agoraphobia, Suicidal Impulses, Eating Disorders, Panic Attacks and Severe Depression. In some cases there were Suicide Attempts.
All of my clients with Personality Disorder are dependent upon family and friends and they have negative beliefs about themselves which contribute significantly to their Serious Depression, Anxiety, low self-esteem, Panic Attack and Agoraphobia.
Do you feel that the organisation you have worked for currently or any other organisations where you have worked (PD specific) have supported your needs?
Advancement and Improvement is required, particularly in terms of training. Personality Disorder is a very complex mental health disorder and it is very challenging to understand it. In my experience most people with Personality Disorder are smart and intelligent and at the opposite end of this they can be highly dysfunctional. There are risks due to lack of knowledge and support that we might have failed to manage a client’s emotional well being and their needs, by not tackling the root of their experiences.
What additional support/support (if any) do you feel could have been in place in order to support you?
I would have dearly liked to have the relevant training in Personality Disorder, especially for BPD. In 2013 I had one day training on PD which was fantastic, however it was short and not provided by the organisation I worked for. There was no support in place at all.
What additional support/support (if any) do you feel could have been in place in order to support your clients?
OT services: A wider range of support that could be taken into a home environment setting, as I have mentioned, some of my clients have difficulty leaving the home due to Agoraphobia. There was no facility for Occupational Therapy to reach my clients that are Agoraphobic.
Courses: A broader range of learning and peer focused groups need to be made available for those that can leave the home, giving clients some hope of recovery as they share their unique experiences.
Home visits: As a Community Development Worker the framework was not in place for me to do home visits without impacting upon my other clients. For example the time allocated for each appointment with my clients was very limited and did not allow for travel. In addition, there was no training provided on how to manage my clients needs, for example, if they presented with a crisis. I simply had to call upon my own experience.
Information and resources: The training, information and resources for both myself and my clients has been limited and proven to be unhelpful, I find myself working extra hours and negotiating difficult needs based upon my own experience and judgement. Printed materials providing education about Personality Disorder have also been lacking.
Those with Personality Disorder often have complex underlying issues, which need to be addressed in a therapy setting like Intensive Psychotherapy or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. The wait for my clients to engage with this form of therapy has been far too drawn out, with some of my clients waiting for nearly two years!
Can you recall any particularly ‘unhelpful’ or challenging events or experiences either directly from your co-workers or your clients?
I have overheard professionals sharing that they perceive Personality Disorder as a diagnosis where clients “take advantage” of their disorder to complain and they are never satisfied with the support they receive. I have been in various meetings supporting clients with Clinical Directors, Psychotherapists and Managers and I picked up a lack of integrity culture across the board from CPN”s to CEO level. Professionals have failed to acknowledge the poor quality of service my clients were receiving and it became noticeable they did not accept responsibility where improvement was clearly required, hiding behind the diagnosis.
Can you recall any particularly ‘helpful’, positive or uplifting events or experiences either directly from your co-workers or your clients?
Not within the workplace setting. I am passionate to support my clients and I will work outside of the remit and restrictions of my job role. One of my clients who suffers with BPD wrote a touching letter to my manager and the Director of the organisation I currently work for. This letter of thanks was uplifting for me, a rewarding and unforgettable experience.
Thank you Odeta for taking part in this interview.
End of Interview.
All interviews on the Monarch Butterfly Website are conducted for the purpose of advancement and development of Personality Disorder services. All views are that of the interviewees and not necessarily the views of Monarch Butterfly. We thank all of our participants for taking part and sharing their valuable time with us. If you think you may be well suited to take part in an interview with Monarch Butterfly please contact us.