Vital Services: Sometimes seeing a doctor is scary…

One25: for women to heal and thrive

One25 posted this on 19/10/2022

Seeing a doctor can be scary at the best of times. In her five years with One25, Dr Lucy has recognised the importance of understanding the women’s unique needs and is passionate about improving trauma-informed care.

Access to a GP service is one of the many, vital ways One25’s drop-in cares for Bristol’s most marginalised women. Though only once a week, the clinic has enabled healthcare for many women who may have gone without.

It’s pursuing this passion that has led Dr Lucy to starting her PHD, exploring how to improve access to primary care for those who have experienced multiple disadvantages, such as the women seen by One25.

While this means saying goodbye to Dr Lucy, we are excited to have welcomed Dr Liz from the 5th October. Before she left, we asked Dr Lucy to share some of her wisdom and experiences with us. Follow Dr Lucy and find out more about the progress of her PhD here. Find out more about the wonderful work our Drop-In service does here.

Check out the transcript below or watch the video.

“Hello, I’m Dr Lucy. I have been the GP here at One25 as part of the homeless health service for five years now.

I would say the biggest joy about working here has been the connections and the relationships with people. It’s a much more intense relationship than you might have as a doctor/patient relationship or colleagues that you work with. Everything is a bit more intense here because of the nature of the work that we do, so that’s meant the highs and the lows have been done together.

I feel hugely privileged that the women have trusted me and let me in and enabled me to support them along their journey. Lots of them have had bad experiences of authority or of services, sometimes, and so that trust is really important.

A really key challenge that I think is faced here, and again not alone, has been around trauma. We hear lots of trauma. The women have had to endure and survive more trauma than anyone ever should. That could also have an impact on other people trying to support them. I’ve learnt huge amounts from One25 and the way that the team works and have felt hugely supported in doing this.

Systems can sometimes let people down and that’s hugely frustrating when you can see how hard somebody has worked… The example that’s strongest to me is around primary care. I’m only here one day a week, it’s not a full time GP service but I can be a part of getting somebody back on their feet such that they can then register with a GP surgery once they’re housed, for example. Then they do have access, should have access to the full provision. Sometimes that step has been really challenging and that’s not because GP surgeries aren’t trying really hard to do a good job, but largely, they’re not really designed for the needs of people who have experienced extensive trauma; might be self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to be able to cope with some of that; and might have extensive mental health issues that really need quite a lot of support and trauma-informed care.

That’s become a real passion of mine – to try and change that, because it’s not right that those who most need health care have the least access to it.

There have been countless fun, happy moments at Drop-in and it’s been a real pleasure to be part of that as well – be it people’s personal breakthroughs or just moments of lightness through all the dark, heavy stuff, or moments where people have supported each other.

Probably the biggest joy for me has been around the work I’ve done with Bridging Gaps – so actually outside of the clinic room. Bridging Gaps is a team of women with lived-experience who have been through One25, either current or past service-users, who are using their lived experience to change services. Together, we’ve been working with local GP surgeries, making some really important changes. That’s been really exciting to see.

In our earlier days of Bridging Gaps we had a new member who was sussing us out and said, “Is this just another one of these things? You’re just going to ask us stuff and nothing’s going to change.” I appreciated her boldness and her challenge. I had to be honest and say, “I don’t know what’s going to change from this – but we’ve got to try.” She did try with us and actually we’ve changed huge amounts.

It’s been a huge privilege and I’ve learned huge amounts. I feel completely honoured to be able to do this work and everything I’ve learned I will be taking forward.”

Follow Dr Lucy and find out more about the progress of her PhD here.

Find out more about the wonderful work our Drop-In service does here.

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