A day at the office…Did I tell you the one about the dentist?

June 20, 2008 at 10:45 am | Posted in Friends, Health, Life, Love, Travel | Leave a comment
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 A couple of folk have asked “what do I actually do at work”? , well as I am in the process of completing my 2 month review, I can tell you my official title is VSO volunteer- Co –ordinator Mental Health. This is a new placement  there is no job specification as such “likely roles the volunteer will undertake” provides 3 general broad objectives, which will hopefully meet the needs of the partner (Mulleriyawa Unit 2-MU2) ,VSO and the funders of my post , the European Commission.

So for the last 2 months I have been meeting the nurses , doctors and patients at the unit, spending time on the wards ,observing the routines, trying to  converse with the women who talk at me. I have spent time with the psychiatric social workers(PSW) at Angoda with the other vol who has been here 18 months again asking questions , observing, listening to explanations of the way the services work over here. Getting to grips with the hierarchical structure that exists ,being non judgemental, some things are very different  that doesn’t mean they are wrong ,just equates to a very interesting time!

I have visited community services other NGO (non governmental organisations) used the time to find my bearings and write peoples names down(especially the nurses who all look alike)made a lot of notes and reflected on what I’ve found in order to produce my objectives for the next 6 months. These focus on the support/rehabilitation of those able to be discharged (stable mentally but institutionalised in behavour) targeting one ward at the moment with 45 patients – working with the PSW formatting a data base to keep a track of what’s happening- trying to locate relatives is extremely time consuming the telephones system often does not work, often don’t have a number in the first place or the address no longer exists.

 I have worked with staff on an assessment form for the nurses  to use as they currently do not document anything …it’s the doctors who do that you see! Therefore training on use of said form is next, remember these nurses are general trained and have had little or no mental health training!  I am looking forward to that as the majority are keen to learn…I have to remember to speak slowly and not prattle on, the flip chart will be out ,group work and role play will be involved hope they have fun and learn something!

Supporting the OT‘s with the opening of a new unit (old ward), trying to figure out how to target the activities on a rehab model. These things take time due to language difficulties; anything I produce has to be translated to Sinhalese.

As the government does not provide a great deal of money I am gathering information to support proposals for international funding and the involvement of Sri Lankan businesses in a more co ordinate fashion. In short I have spent the last 8 or so weeks settling into place, trying not to be hard on myself, attempting to establish a routine, and being realistic about what I can achieve! Will keep you posted on how I’m doing.

 

Oh aye the dentist …I damaged a filling the other day on  a date stone, VSO kindly arranged for me to visit the dentist at a private hospital. I did not feel particularly at ease when asked to feedback as they had never used this women before! I was also told to take a book I could be in for a wait! Feeling a tad apprehensive entered the dept handed in my letter did not even sit down before being asked to enter the surgery the dentist( he) would see me straight away! Anxiety levels rising, would I be able to explain about the hole in my tooth that felt like the Grand Canyon ,would I understand him , would he appreciate being a nurse I was not keen on injections, what would they be using ahhhh….

All was well, he spoke  very good English, he was very charming, obviously aware of my anxiety, told me  where he had trained in London, was very reassuring with out being patronising I felt at ease as he began his examination. He explained exactly what he was going to do, was very gentle, he spoke of how he enjoyed his years in London .As he filled my mouth with bits of dental instruments he moved on to politics …he then stated how he thought “Mrs Thatcher had done a marvellous job for Britain”, I of course tried to reply but could not, he thought he had hurt me “you are sensitive my dear have I touched  a nerve” well that certainly kept me distracted whilst he finished the procedure, I did not bother to respond once everything was sorted  I just  paid my rupees ( about £8 actually)thanked him and left grinning to myself! I have recommended  him to VSO,  it was after all a pain free experience !

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