Health and Social Care
Voices of community health and social care: Genevieve’s story
Over the course of the past year, we have been up and down the country filming for our Voices campaign. We have heard from people who use and work in community health and social care, listening to their experiences and how this has shaped their hopes for the National Care Service.
Genevieve Smith is the drama therapy policy officer for the British Association of Drama Therapists and has worked in drama therapy for 30 years.
Tell us about your role?
A drama therapist is someone who is trained at master’s degree level to use the healing aspects of drama and theatre to help people express their feelings, particularly when they have had difficult experiences they are looking to make sense of so that they can move on.
How does drama therapy work?
It is an action, rather than a talking, form of psychological therapy where people get to use their creativity for problem solving. They may use story making, art movement, objects to be able to show an experience – usually quite a difficult experience – that they’ve had. They might have overcome the obstacles from that experience and if they haven’t, then that’s what the therapy will be about. We’ll focus on equipping them with new ideas and opportunities to rehearse, test out, see what works and doesn’t work as they move forward.
Who are your clients?
I’ve worked with a broad age range – from children with autism, who are self-harming or feeling suicidal, to adults with experience of trauma to older adults with dementia in a wide range of health and social care and vocational settings.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
Watching people discover how their creativity gives them a sense of getting their lives back, finding new meaning where they once felt stuck and liberated that they would survive, that they would learn and that they would be a stronger and better person as a result of their experience.
I get up in the morning and know that I’m going to work in a way that is going to be enlightening, enriching and challenging and offer people a unique experience that they may have never had before and they may never have again.
What are the day-to-day challenges of your job?
There never seems to be enough time to meet the demand that there is. Resources are thin on the ground, particularly at the minute. Also helping people overcome their resistance to change, to doing things differently, to being innovative and creative, to finding new ways of working with people, of delivering therapy that is really going to meet the needs that are out there.
What works well within health and social care?
How accessible the NHS is for patients making that first point of contact with their GP. I know there’s been criticisms over that during the pandemic but I feel that we are getting back on track.
What are your hopes from a National Care Service?
That the workforce is valued for the key transformations it provides. As a drama therapist, I work as an allied health professional along with many colleagues and we are full of diversity, energy and skill. We need to make best use of that, be more integrated so that we offer people the best lives that they can live. There should be less of a divide between health and social care.
What are your hopes for future improvement?
Giving us the ability to reach more people across Scotland, offering treatment choice in psychological therapy, beyond words.
We also need to move more into a model of preventative care and early intervention, with a wider range of treatments, such as drama therapy, within the community.
If you have experience of community health and social care, please register for our Lived Experience Experts Panel and help us design a National Care Service which meets the needs of everyone in Scotland.
We’re also hosting a series of in-person and online forums this summer as part of the development of the National Care Service. You can find out more information and how to register your place on gov.scot/ncs.