Same World, Different World
I’ve recently returned to work after nearly a year off and it’s interesting in the ever changing, fast-paced world of IAPT how much seems to have stayed the same, relatively speaking.
There have been two very big changes for me personally though in terms of the very sad loss of two colleagues. The first of these was Bob James who had been working in Step 2 services since 2004 when the graduate worker role first started. Bob was one of 18 students on the course alongside myself and didn’t really fulfil the stereotype of the workforce, having previously worked in the prison service and the armed forces where he served in Northern Ireland. This definitely didn’t stop him thriving in the role though and he was clearly passionate about the job from the start.
Bob’s drive to help people was always clear, as was his belief in the role as something different to a more traditional therapy role, something he and I always agreed on. He didn’t like all elements of the job – especially all the targets and admin, which only increased as services moved into the IAPT structure, and he definitely wasn’t afraid to let his opinion about this be known(!) but he did like the step 2 model, and his patients were always the most important thing to him: really he just didn’t like anything that he saw as getting in the way of helping patients! Bob became unwell in early 2018 and deteriorated very quickly; sadly, he passed away on 6th April 2018. He was a great man, a true gentleman and a fantastic PWP in his own unique way and, having worked in step 2 for 14 years, will be a huge loss to the workforce as well as to his many friends and family. I will certainly miss him as a colleague and a friend and will always remember him as someone devoted to his patients and the value of the role, and someone who proved it was possible to make the role your own and still get good outcomes (and meet his hated targets!).
The second colleague we have had to say goodbye to in 2018 was Roger Rowlands. Many of you may not know Roger, but he was the course lead for the Graduate Worker training at UCLan when it first started, and was so important in the start of a dedicated step 2 workforce, and in more recent years has been a clinical lead in a small IAPT service with a consortium of GP practices in North Lancashire. Roger was definitely a unique character – like no one else I’ve ever met! But I learnt so much from him when he taught me, and his passion and enthusiasm for helping people and making clinical practice ‘real’ when it comes to how to work with all the different characters you meet in practice was absolutely contagious – even if it did mean bending the odd rule occasionally! Roger also became unwell early in 2018 and passed away at the end of May 2018 and will be greatly missed by all his family, friends and colleagues.
So what else happened in the world of IAPT while I was away? The publication of the IAPT Manual feels like a really valuable – and much needed – resource for IAPT services. With the speed at which IAPT services have been established and developed across the country and with a range of providers, some clear universal guidance as to how services are expected to work, including consideration of the different workforce groups, the reporting and collection of data, and the wellbeing of the workforce is definitely a welcome addition to the information out there for IAPT services.
Before I finished work last year we held the second Northern PWP conference in Sheffield in September 2017 which was a great success. It was a really well attended conference with nearly 200 PWPs there and a lot of really interesting and engaging presentations. It also saw the launch of the BABCP Low Intensity Special Interest Group and their first inaugural meeting and appointment of the committee (more details available on the BABCP website here). It’s a real positive step forward that the SIG has been re-launched, and there is a clear national network, but this is a Low Intensity SIG and as such is broader than ‘just’ PWPs and ‘just’ IAPT services, and the conversations about the need for and options for the PWP role to be registered and/or accredited are still ongoing. There are a number of local PWP networks, including here in the North West where we have fantastic support from the North West Psychological Professions Network and close ties with the North East and Yorkshire and Humber PWP Networks, but it is important for these networks to remain effective and active with good engagement from practitioners across the region.
With this in mind, we’re going to be hosting another Senior PWP event in the North West in 2019 to give an opportunity for the network to re-establish its purposes and functions, and also engage with the new Senior PWPs who are working in the North West, and to appoint a new Chair specifically for the Senior PWP Network to work alongside myself as Chair of the PWP Network in the North West.
I’m also really excited to share that we are in the early stages of planning a third Northern PWP conference in June 2019 – so watch this space for more information of when this will happen!
So, what have I learned from my time away from work? I guess that while we may feel like everything is constantly changing, in many ways there might be a bit more stability than we realise: and that the world of social media also means that a year away from work isn’t quite the same ‘switch off from everything’ as it might once have been!