My second week at St. Anne’s is nearly over, and I feel like I’ve settled in nicely. As I’ve carried out more and more screening I’ve become much more confident with the process, and when explaining the results to service users. The staff have been working really hard to raise awareness of my screening amongst service users and as a result I’ve been pretty busy!
Throughout my time at St. Anne’s, my perception of the homeless and people with alcohol/substance abuse problems has changed dramatically. It’s often difficult to admit that we have prejudices towards these groups, but I’ll put my hands up and say that before I began my project I had always been a bit frightened or suspicious of them. Over the past two weeks, I’ve had the chance to talk to many people I’d never normally interact with, such as the homeless, recovering alcoholics, and people who are alcohol and drug-dependent. Hearing their stories (through the screening process) has helped me to understand how circumstance often lands people in positions they never expected to be in, and has really shown me that there’s no need to be skeptical or scared of these people – they are, after all, just people. I’ve never had so many interesting conversations, or laughed so much!
Despite all the fun, I’ve faced some new challenges this week. Many of the people who’ve asked to be screened for cognitive impairment this week speak English as a second language, which makes the scoring of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment complicated. Some parts of the assessment are designed to test verbal fluency and abstraction, so for people for whom English is a second language this can be more difficult. Frustratingly, there is no guidance on how to adjust the scoring of the assessment in this situation available, so I’ve had to adapt the process how I see fit to ensure I get accurate data.
I’ve also spent some time talking to the staff at St. Anne’s about ARBD (Alcohol Related Brain Damage) and interestingly they knew very little about the condition. From my (admittedly still small) data set it’s clear that ARBD is a problem amongst the service users, so the staff were concerned that they weren’t well-informed on the subject. Using this, I’ve started designing a leaflet for the staff at St. Anne’s to inform them about ARBD, its symptoms and what to do if they suspect a service user may be suffering from the condition. This lot should keep me busy until my next blog post!