Work has a powerful role to play in promoting recovery from mental illness, improving quality of life, health and wellbeing whilst reducing social exclusion by providing structure and meaning, resulting in increased self-esteem, self-worth and confidence (Shepherd et al 2009).
The Elysium Work Opportunities programme provides resources and processes for service users to practice and develop skills in supporting their vocational recovery goals and incorporates opportunities to develop practical working skills, role-specific skills, problem-solving skills and increased confidence in applying for jobs.
This programme provides therapeutic and practical engagement that is supportive of the seven recovery goals as identified in the Work Star model; a model that can be used with service users to reflect their views regarding progress made through engagement and identify further goals that can be met to enhance their recovery so that service users feel skilled, enabled and confident in searching for jobs following discharge.
To enhance both the therapeutic values and skill development of this programme, the internal Work Opportunities have been designed to be both realistic and reflective of current employment, including the application and recruitment processes. This process provides service users with an opportunity to practice using skills that they develop over time, with on-going support and learning sessions, allowing for the increased development of skill and confidence, which is quantified through the Work Star model. Work Opportunities are paid roles and can be numerous, depending on the unit and also the identified future needs of service users.
Roles include Service User Representatives, ward-based cleaner, groundskeeper, newsletter editor, and exercise co-facilitator. Social inclusion workers also support individuals to connect with external work opportunities such as volunteering in charity shops.
Although the programme is still being piloted, each site that has implemented a work opportunity has reported it as being a great success and they are looking forward to increasing the number of opportunities offered.