#ExpOfCare Blog: Reflections on venturing into adulthood


Friday 24th March 2017 by @AmyFrounks

      

The venture into adulthood is full of opportunities, surprises, and change; all of these a learning curve and mixture of positive and negative experiences.

Being a young adult has been amazing I believe these are going to be the best years of my life, in fact am already enjoying them more than my childhood. Having said that, I need to survive this adjustment phase first… this time period where I am travelling through life trying to establish what I am meant to be doing, what are good choices and the ‘right’ things to be doing and responding with. All this is challenging alone but when you chuck a disability and several health conditions into the mix, it becomes a minefield. Coming to University was a big change for me, I am not just learning how to live independently, have a social life and study. I am trying to do this whilst establishing structure and routine, whilst pacing every day to avoid relapse. I am learning by trial and error, how late I can stay out, how alcohol interacts with medications and just how far I can push myself. I have to learn this, because no one really warned me about how this big change would impact my health, how I would have more hospital admissions than I was used to.

Being a young adult now, the day eventually came when I could no longer be admitted to the familiar paediatric ward ‘Oak ward,’ instead a brand-new adults ward. A place where I was most frequently placed next to those that are over 60 years of age with very different needs to mine, with new staff and new rules. Every admission I have had as an adult, I have been on a different ward. I have had to say goodbye to the familiarity of ‘Tom’ the ward assistant that would notice I was feeling rubbish and take a few minutes to talk to me and play ‘would you rather’ whilst he was cleaning to allow me to feel human again instead of the isolated, institutionalised person I was becoming. I have had to say goodbye to the staff that congratulated me when I received my exam result and when I passed my driving test whilst on morning leave. Moving on to staying in the adults ward was hard, it was an alien environment with different professionals but one nurse made it seem that little bit easier. This was my first day on the ward and she came over to me and asked me if I had been on an adults ward before and informed me what I should expect but also reassuringly touched my shoulder and gave me the support I needed.

As soon as I had just settled into the adult NHS services in Somerset, I moved to University. Geographic transition turned out to be harder than the jump from children’s to adults because no one really knew what the transfer should look like and there was no joined up care. I hadn’t met any of the new professionals, I had no joint appointments and there were large delays in treatment as we were unaware of how the services were shaped in Reading in comparison to Taunton. One example of this, is that I had about 3 months out of mental health services before I reached crisis and finally got the support I needed once again. Barriers are present for everyone receiving care, but what makes the difference is how they are dealt with, who is in your corner and how they communicate with you. The nurse that let my friends stay outside of visiting hours because she knew that I was struggling without my family being around, made me feel valued. The physio that took the time to listen to ‘what matters to me,’ enabled me to have person centred care.

I am still learning by trial and error but as I sit in the waiting room for my GP today, I reflect on how everything has changed, the massive change in care, location, people, support and me. The most important thing for me now is that I am starting to be able to manage as an independent young adult, however that doesn’t mean I don’t need support from around me. Those who take the time to realise that, provide me with the best experience of care.

 

You can follow Amy at @AmyFrouks on twitter





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