Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at our 12-week recovery programmes? Karen, the admissions coordinator at our York service, talks us through a typical day.

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I’m Karen, the admissions coordinator at the Changing Lives 12-week recovery programme in York.

It’s a varied role: from accepting referrals from professional agencies, to meeting and greeting people when they arrive, to generally supporting all the team administration. I also take calls, signpost people to other services, oversee our health and safety……oh the list goes on!

I’m the first face that anyone visiting our programme sees – they could be a client, a professional or someone arriving here seeking help – so it is really important that I offer empathy and warmth, as well as professionalism.

I never have two days the same! We have an ‘open door policy’ so our clients can present with a number of issues, not only substance use.

That is one major attraction of the role, being able to support people regardless of their circumstances.

9am – My day  starts at 9am, with clients signing in between 9am and 9:30am. As well as saying hello and making them feel welcome, I accept their previous evening’s paperwork and check they hand in their phone. Mobiles as we know are a huge distraction! I check the clients have had a good evening and wish them a good day ahead!

9:30am – Clients’ days start with their Morning Focus Group. They run this themselves, which gives us all time to get set up for the day. I do the milk run – we drink a lot of tea! – and hand over the paperwork to the counselling team, making sure I pass on any messages.

9:50am – Morning Focus Group finishes and there is a steady stream of clients in and out for a cigarette break! Clients also pop into the office to use the landline and chat and catch up.  I have a really relaxed relationship with our clients and enjoy the interaction.

10:15am – Clients go back into Group after their break. They’ll be working with a counsellor on developing emotional awareness and self esteem. For me, the admin side of the role kicks in. I work on referrals, which is making appointments and liaising with other agencies to ensure potential clients and current clients get the help they need from the wide range of services available in York. Coffee is on the desk too!

12:00 noon – It’s time to pop the oven on. Every Friday we have a community lunch where clients and staff bring food and we all share lunch together. This is a great relaxed space to reflect on the week.

2pm – After lunch, our clients go into Friday afternoon group. There is plenty of laughter coming from the group room. The afternoon begins for me with the Changing Lives project over the road getting in touch to say their computers are down and could we help with some printing and scanning of housing contracts! There’s always something unexpected cropping up but it keeps us on our toes! Great team work, whatever the project type may be!

3.45pm – The staff team join the clients for the Friday afternoon song, always ends a strong productive week on a positive uplifting note!

3.50pm –  Group finishes and our clients are back at reception, chatting about their mutual support groups that they’ll be attending in the evening and over the weekend. Groups like AA / NA provide vital peer support to people in recovery, especially at evenings and weekends when they’re not attending our services. I give back their phones, sign them out and wish them well.

4:30pm – And so the week ends. Clients all have a weekend plan for a safe weekend, and I go home reflect on a busy challenging week, and to look forward to starting the next one on Monday.

About our programme

Our recovery programme offers a 12-week, structured, abstinence-based programme for people who wish to be free from drugs or alcohol. It is open to people aged 18+

The programme follows the principles of the 12-step approach to recovery and includes one-t-one counselling, group therapy, meetings, and workshops for developing life skills.

Participants need to free of all substances before they start the programme and to provide support with this we run a weekly pre-treatment group.

To compliment the programme, and to build a supportive network outside of treatment, participants are required to attend three mutual aid meetings a week whilst in treatment.

People who successfully complete the full time programme are supported by the staff team for up to a year and have access to an Employability Coach who can help with employment, volunteering and educational opportunities.  They can also attend a weekly continuing care group and once again benefit from peer support.

The programme is non-residential – we offer day treatment. This offers the chance for people to manage their own lives on a daily basis whilst getting support for any difficulties from staff and peers at Changing Lives. This is of particular benefit to people with children.

We offer

  • Pre-treatment groups whilst the client is awaiting detox
  • Group therapy and one-to-one counselling
  • Workshops for developing life skills and relapse prevention strategies
  • Education and information on addiction, recovery and health promotion
  • Therapeutic reading and writing exercises
  • Working with others engaged in the same process
  • Free aftercare for 12 months on completion of treatment

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