Getting back to work - a stroke survivor’s story

L-R: Caroline McAuley, Support Worker, Bernadette Devlin, Donna Spiers, CMP Occupational Therapist
L-R: Caroline McAuley, Support Worker, Bernadette Devlin, Donna Spiers, CMP Occupational Therapist

FIVE years ago Magherafelt woman Bernadette Devlin suffered a stroke.

The local woman developed epilepsy and had lost all hope of going back to work.

But thanks to help from a Northern Trust programme and her local employment advisor, Bernadette is now both mentally and physically ready to take on the challenge of getting back onto the jobs market, and becoming the person she was before her illness.

“All I knew was that I wanted to get back out into the real world, get back to the real me,” said Bernadette.

“I now have several ideas for starting my own business, I enjoy flower arranging and another option I considered was opening a B&B, since all my children have left home I have the space.

“Doing the business start-up course has really given me the motivation to do this and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do the course if it had not have been for the CMP programme.”

The Magherafelt woman participated in the Trust led Condition Management Programme (CMP), recommended to her by Pathways Employment Advisor at the Jobs & Benefits office, Joanne Kelly.

The 12 week programme, built in partnership between the Northern Trust and Department of Employment and Learning (DEL). is designed to assist people in managing their health conditions by working with them,

It has been developed as part of the Government’s agenda to help people with mild to moderate health conditions get back into the work place.

The programme offers advice on topics such as pain management, managing anxiety and low mood to building confidence and self-esteem. When someone is referred by the Pathways Employment Advisor, a Health Care Practitioner from CMP meets with them to find out what support they need and to develop a plan and set goals to help them manage their condition to eventually enable them to return to work.

The CMP team is made up of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, a Cardiac Nurse, Dietitians, Mental Health Nurses and Support Workers with assistance from administration staff and operates out of nine Jobs & Benefits offices in the Northern Trust area.

Bernadette met with CMP Occupational Therapist Donna Spiers to discuss her health issues and identify what aspects of CMP best suited her needs.

She attended individual sessions with the CMP practitioners and group sessions.

“I took part in managing depression, healthy lifestyles, confidence building and assertiveness training,” explained Bernadette.

“I found the assertiveness training to be a real benefit to me. I was also involved in a gym programme supervised by CMP Physiotherapist, Jill Davidson,”

Donna Spiers, CMP Occupational Therapist added: “The programme aims to help the person understand their health condition and to enable them to manage it better. We get people to look at their day to day activities e.g. eating patterns, sleep routine, self-care and how it impacts on their daily lives.

“We support them to recognise their unique work skills and abilities, gain confidence and increase their potential for returning to work or further training”.

Participation in the programme is voluntary and does not affect an individual’s benefits.

Speaking about Bernadette’s progress, Donna added: “We have seen a huge difference in Bernadette’s confidence since she completed the programme. She is more assertive and more confident within herself and making active plans for the future.”

CMP is one of the range of programmes available to individuals who attend the Job’s and Benefits offices under the Pathways to work initiative and who are in receipt of employment support or incapacity benefit. Individuals who are currently in work but suffer from a health condition that is affecting their ability to remain in work can also be referred into the programme by their GP.

If you are interested in finding out more about CMP please contact Jacqui McNeilly, CMP Project Development Officer, 028 2563 6742.