Saturday, 2 January 2016

Feedback and Feedforward

Chinua came to me in my role as mainstream bridge builder at a time when the company had just had positive news from the local council.  Direct Payments or personal budgets were being extended to cover anything deemed useful as part of a person's recovery pathway.

For a team of social inclusion bridge builders this was great news.  It meant that clients could apply for mainstream activity, rather than being prescribed very limited funding for strictly care-based provision. If they preferred to use their own funds, that was fine. If personal funds were not available, a new strategy was open to us.

Chinua told me that his key worker had already sorted out some direct payments for him.  I was intrigued to hear what this might be. Chinua told me that it was ten pounds a month set aside for him to go to the local cinema. 'I think we can do better than that', I said.

Since we had already completed a wheel of life together, I knew that Chinua had prioritised the study of DJ-ing and music production as the main plank of his goals and action plan. It was an activity he had done in the past and he wished to take it up again.

I told Chinua that the new direct payments system meant that he could start on this activity as soon as he wished.  He only needed to choose a local studio and as his bridge builder, I would give as much or as little support as he requested.  If he didn't know of a local venue it was my job to signpost him to the places that I worked with in my role as an arts life coach.  If he preferred to do his own research for a suitable outlet, that would be fine too.

In the event, Chinua did not take up any of these options.  In fact, I didn't hear from Chinua for a long time, some months in fact.  This happens a lot in mental health, particularly for clients with a long-term condition.  People go off radar and even calling them on three or four occasions yields no result. Sometimes this can be due to a relapse, a change in medication or simply by the client's own choice.  It is usually nothing to worry about.  Everyone is at their own stage in the journey.

When I did finally hear from Chinua it wasn't until about six months' later.  His key worker had invited me to attend a review with Chinua at his flat.  It must have been cancelled without me being informed because when I turned up there was no-one around apart from a scary but thankfully harmless rottweiler.  A day later I happened to encounter Chinua on the street on my way home.  He seemed well and I asked him how he was getting on.  'Oh I'm two terms into my music production course at South Thames College mate', he informed me.

I was delighted with this news.  Chinua had effectively 'mainstreamed' himself without my help which in my opinion is a perfect coaching outcome.  It turned out that the course was an undergraduate B.A. programme which Chinua went on to complete.

My next meeting with Chinua was eighteen months later when he independently enrolled as part of a film and music project for which my company had gained funding.  If you want to see Chinua's work (under his real name)  as part of the production team, check out the film 'Mister Fox's Night Out'

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