Stories of Changing Lives

The Patients’ Council at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital is set to launch a book of stories from patients, carers and staff about moving from hospital-based care into community care.

The book, ‘Stories of Changing Lives’, gives a voice to people to share their personal experiences of moving on to community-based care during the mid/late 1990’s.

The book highlights the reality that peoples’ lives do change as they become established in their communities. It shows that by supporting people to live in their own home rather than in a hospital setting can exceed both their own and others expectations. The publication offers hope and inspiration to others.

The publication of ‘Stories of Changing Lives’ was funded by NHS Lothian Endowments.

Linda Irvine, Strategic Programme Manager, NHS Lothian, said:

“This book tells the extraordinary stories of remarkable people who made huge changes in their lives. It echoes our message that recovery can be a reality for people with a mental health illness. I would encourage everyone to read it and be inspired by what is possible.”

Lesley Smith, a member of the Patient’s Council and lead for this work sums up the key messages from these powerful narratives:

 “Some people would say that community care doesn’t work but we ask you to think again: these stories prove that community based care that is focused, well-planned and resourced in a person centered and holistic way enables people to be in control of their lives showing that it can and does work”
In the mid/late 1990’s there was shift toward community care due to policy changes and a recognition that hospital-based care was not necessarily the best option for people with a long term mental health illness.

At this time the Royal Edinburgh Hospital set about moving its continuing care service into the community. In all, over 100 people were moved into the community with a variety of living options made available in partnership with support providers and housing associations. All support was personalised and tailored to each individual’s strengths and needs.

The book will be officially launched on Friday 15 January at Craiglockhart Campus, Edinburgh Napier University.