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Glen's story

Voice Over: The Pathways to Community Living Initiative is coordinated state-wide approach to supporting people with serious and enduring mental illness who have been in hospital for over 12 months to wherever possible re-established their lives in the community.

This is the story of Glen who lived for many years as an inpatient at Bloomfield hospital in Orange, Glen was determined to have a better life outside of hospital. Thanks to the work of some very dedicated health professionals Glen is now living in the community at Annie Green Court a residential aged-care facility operated by Mission Australia.

How long was Glen in Hospital?

Bronwyn Hyde: Glen was in Bloomfield hospital for about 15 years continuous admission but prior to that he’d had numerous admissions to Bloomfield and eventually came to stay with us as I said about 15 years ago.

He suffers from schizophrenia his is often very tortured with his thoughts, he finds it difficult to put his words together because he’s in his head there are competing voices telling him he’s got to fight wars, that he is no good, that those voices are very distracting for him sometimes they become overwhelming for him. He talks about feeling tortured and finds it very difficult to focus on a conversation, sometimes they’re better than others but it’s a constant thing for Glen that he always has to struggle with.

The biggest thing was that his family don’t live in Orange, so its been quite a struggle for his family to visit him over the years the closest relative is in Newcastle and us thinking Sydney is much closer to Newcastle for him. His brother who’s the only relative that keeps in touch with Glen has become quite ill in recent years and so the trip to Bloomfield became more and more difficult for him so that’s when we started to look at whether or not something like Annie Green would be closer to family and would also offer more choices for Glen.

What was hospital like for Glen?

For somebody like Glen the hospital can offer a very tight and constant monitoring of his mental health. It can offer immediate treatment if he deteriorates, but on the by the same token it also has great restrictions so it’s a locked environment where he was living in the hospital not because he was a problem but because there are others in the unit who could wander and were at risk of harm to themselves or others so Glen had to be locked in that unit because it was a locked ward for the other people and their needs.

What that means then of course there’s very rigid structures and routines so you have to conform to those routines so meals are at a particular time, going out for a walk you have to ask to be let out so those kind of restrictions I think are very difficult for somebody like Glen who really doesn’t need that level of structure so again this environment offers that choice and that freedom to go as he pleases and within reason of course to do as he please and that’s very liberating I think for Glen.

What can living in the community offer that hospital cannot?

I think here there’s also very much an individual, individualized care but it is much easier to do in this kind of environment that is you know a very set hospital routine structure, structured environment so the one-on-one care its more personable. People get to know you as a person rather than as a patient so there’s the time I suppose to get to know people better because they’re able to make choices their real self is able to come through a whole lot more Their ability to socialize to meet other people, to be supported by people who respect them as people and who don’t see them in a very narrow view of being a patient who’s dependent and has high needs. They’re a person first and foremost and I think this kind of environment really encourages that.

What was the process to get Glen to Annie Green Court?

Khodr Alawie: Actually Glen initially came to have a look at the facility with another residents coming from Bloomfield hospital. Glen - he was not supposed to come actually to the Annie Green Court and it was the other resident came in here to have a look, but Glen came to accompany that resident to Annie Green Court anyway we actually we admitted that resident to Annie Green Court from Bloomfield hospital.

Probably after a month Glen was saying he wants to come in here where you know visited the facility being contacted it to social worker organized a transfer for him to come to the facility. Came and seems to be really settled.

How has Glen changed since he arrived?

He liked it but still he was really bit anxious and you could see that he was kind of a bit lost and we understand that when we say environmental shock that does happen to everyone, so we realized that it was a bit uncomfortable you know like asking staff a lot of questions. Coming and then, you know, like it was a bit irritable now he’s very calm he knows where to go, he knows the area, he knows the outside, he knows inside he comes actually to my door when he missed something knock on my door and they asked me, so he knows now its more comfortable until that moment Glen thanks me for accepting into the facility and I’m very happy I took him actually.

Is Glen getting better?

Absolutely. Glen is getting better because Glen feels he’s really now has the freedom, he can go out come to the facility no problem. He asked staff to go with him, we’re becoming a family to him. Asking the staff, not only me, some of staff also go with him outside, he’ll say ‘Oh it’s a nice day can you go out with me?’ We take him outside so he feel, I feel that he can do whatever he wants in this environment its quite comfortable enjoying his time, enjoying his coffee outside, enjoying talking to all the staff so I feel he’s really quite comfortable and you can ask him he’s quite happy

Voice Over: While he was in hospital Glen would be given medication when the symptoms of his illness caused him distress. A process known among clinicians as PRN. Since coming to Annie Green Court Glen has been able to work out other ways of coping if he starts to feel anxious or depressed such as going to his room to have a shower or sitting down and talking with a staff member until his anxiety subsides.

Glen’s new home is Annie Green Court in Redfern Ben Carblis, State Director of Mission Australia talks about the facility.

Ben Carblis: What we believe is that we need to understand the person to provide the holistic care to understand this individual and then start to provide the level of service. If we know this person, if we understand what it is they want and then we’ll be able to provide the care that is both clinical but it is also the care of the individual human needs that we all experience. At Annie Green Court the way that we that the layout of this facility, I guess you could say there are communities within a community. We have designed the building and the layout of our facilities so we can bring small groups of people together in a larger group. We recognize the importance of relationships and building on each other the social interactions, the stimulus of how we engage with people. You know we find that a lot of our residents, once they join our facility after a couple of years whilst they are aging they actually look younger. Their health starts to look better, their skin starts to look better, they start to open up, they laugh and they engage with us but every persons journey is very unique and we’re very proud of what we’re providing here, that we also know we still have a lot learn and we are very keen to ensure that we continually continuously grow in what we do.

Voice Over: We should leave it to Glen to have the final say on Annie Green Court

Glen :I love it here darl’ I really do, I love it here, its excellent

Voice Over: If you’d like more information about the Pathways to Community Initiative please visit the New South Wales website

Glen’s story – three years on

Voice Over: The pathways to community living initiative is a coordinated state-wide approach to supporting people with severe and persistent mental illness, who have had a long stay in hospital for more than 12 months and to re-establish their lives in the community.

We met Glenn nearly four years ago, Glenn arrived at Annie Green Court in Redfern after many years as an inpatient at Bloomfield hospital in Orange. The transition from Orange to Annie Green Court began with a bus trip.

Bronwyn Hyde: Always loved, you heard him say he loves his bus trips, so we combined his love of bus trips with will do you want to come down and have a look when one of the other patients was coming down to stay or to have a look and so Glen jumped on the bus and came down and had a look and I think the attraction was more about the bus ride, rather than coming to see anywhere else.

Khodr Alawie: After probably a month Glen was saying that wanted to come in here where you know visited the facility.

Bronwyn Hyde: I think what attracted him then once he was here, was the warmth of the place and from that moment on when he came back to Bloomfield, I think it was in about November last year all he could talk about was could he please move to Annie Green Court.

Khodr Alawie: Every resident you know coming to the facility or especially for those suffering from mental illness we need to approach them differently you know like we cannot have one rule applies to all of them. Everyone likes certain things and we need to focus on what he likes and we developed that what he likes and we develop it with the time start working with them closely and in this way we can build the trust.

Voice over: That trust and understanding has allowed Glen to live a better life outside of hospital.

Glen Farmer: “It’s pretty good here darl’. Doc looks after us very well”.

Bronwyn Hyde: I've noticed some really significant changes in Glenn in the last three years. I've kept in contact since he's been here at Annie Green. Probably two things one is control in that he has control now over what's happening to his life, he has a lot more freedom here and because of that he's much more sociable, his conversation is much broader he's much more willing to engage in conversation which is really nice.

Glen Farmer: “I’ll tell you the truth darlin’ I enjoy walking out that door walking down to the pub, walking back to the park, sitting in the park. that's what I enjoyed doing”.

Khodr Alawie: Glenn has improved really very well since he came to Annie Green Court. Glenn became more engaged in a lot of activities Glen became also kind more social with the with the residence that we have in he had friends now.

Glen Farmer: “Yeah, I’ve got a lot of friends here. And I love playing bingo, even when I don’t win, bingo’s still fun to play.”

Voice over: While Glenn was in hospital he'd be given medication when the symptoms of his illness caused him distress, a process known among clinicians as PRN. Since coming to Annie Green Court Glenn has been able to work out ways of coping if he starts to feel anxious or depressed.

Bronwyn Hyde: He has his own room he can go back to his room, he can have a lie down, he can have a shower when he wants and that's been really helpful for him too in terms of managing his own mental health. Sometimes when he's feeling unwell and as he calls it tortured he's able to either negotiate here with staff as to what makes him feel better and pursue that so he can go and have a shower he can go and have a lie down he can have a beer which is something very different to his life in hospital before.

Khodr Alawie: Glenn can go out at any time come back at any time do whatever he likes outside if he wants to spend even a night outside, it doesn’t happen often, but some of the reasons they do have they want to spend time outside as long as they tell us there I'm going to don't have to ask us but we need to know they're safe.

Bronwyn Hyde: I think for me one of the most significant things was I came to visit Glenn just at the end of last year and it was a long weekend and I saw Glenn in his room and we decided we go out for coffee and we went down to the front door and because nobody was on the front door I had to wait at the front door till Glenn's swiped me out, which is the total opposite of what it was like in hospital before where Glenn was at the beck and call of staff to let him out. I had to wait and for me that was a really significant moment of this is the difference between Glenn living in a hospital been Glenn living in the community. It's his home he has control of when he comes and goes.

Voice over: Glenn's home is Annie Green Court. He's living a better life and his freedom has given him a purpose and a rye sense of humour.

Glen Farmer: “I'll get seven bucks off you Doc and go and have a beer. Then I'll come back and play bingo. I love playing bingo Darl’. Bingo’s good, isn’t it Doc. I love playing bingo.”

“Annie Green Court, its pretty good here darl’.”

Voice over: If you'd like to know more about the Pathways to Community Living Initiative please visit the New South Wales Health website.

Virak’s story

Virak singing

Voice Over: The Pathways to Community Living Initiative is a coordinated state-wide approach to supporting people with severe and persistent mental illness who have had a long stay in hospital for more than twelve months to re-establish their lives in the community. This is Virak’s story, but it is also Virak’s sisters’ story. Sotha and Leakhena have been very active in caring for their brother and initially they were reluctant to move their brother into aged care.

Sotha: To be honest, at the beginning I was so reluctant to accept that offer because Virak kept saying no all the time every time I checked with him. But still, its not possible not to accept because there isn’t a facility close to where I live.

Voice Over:)But once Sotha and Leakhena visited Annie Green Court and met those who would care for Virak they saw the benefits.

Leakhena: When we came downstairs after we walked around, checking the floors and we met Khodr, the Manager. He shook hands with my sister and myself and then he put his hand out to Virak and Virak put his hand out to Khodr as well and they shook (hands) together and laugh and smile at each other. That is the last moment we feel that he is happy to see the place and that there is no hesitation.

Khodr Alawie: With the help from his sisters they’d bring him for one day, then they’d take him home then they’d bring him back. Just to make him used to the environment.

Leakhena: Virak came and stayed at Annie Green Court I can see the change in him.

Voice Over: Virak receives support from dedicated staff from Mission Australia, and the NDIS and the PCLI all working together.

Sotha: Before coming to Annie Green Court Virak sometimes, could be quite aggressive and fixate in his own thoughts. When he came here, I could see slowly he started to become more relaxed. Especially having the worker from NDIS supporting him.

Heidi Holt :I find that Virak is very artistic and very musical and I love that he can explore his creativity through his drawing and music, he’s a huge music lover. He has his favourite hits from the eighties and so every time we’re out we’ll play DJ and chose different songs he enjoys listening to and I think that’s really important for him to open up through that outlet.

Voice Over: Virak’s transition to Annie Green Court not only has improved his life but his sisters’ lives as well.

Sotha: My brother came to Annie Green Court. I can see a lot of difference. He didn’t want to leave hospital, but now he doesn’t want to go back to the hospital.

Leakhena:My sister and I are very happy to see him the way he is now.

Sotha: Also he has the family with him once a week and he can go out and eat, Virak likes to go out to eat.

Heidi Holt :As he slowly became more confident and more comfortable being part of the community we’d go for different meals. We’ve explored different suburbs, such as Marrickville and gone for a Vietnamese meal or he’s enjoying different types of Asian cuisines something related to his culture I think he really enjoys re-living that.

Sotha: I can see that Virak has a safe future and I don’t have that worry at the back of my mind.

Leakhena: In the future, he will be able to be living independently.

Sotha: It’s truly happened and that can not go back to how it was. I used to be a Carer and a sister but I no longer a Carer just his sister.

Voice Over: If you would like more information about the Pathways to Community Living initiative please visit the NSW Health website

Current as at: Monday 20 June 2022
Contact page owner: Mental Health