I’m Aileen and I’m a Thistle Health and Wellbeing Practitioner in the Midlothian Wellbeing Team, based in the GP practice at Gorebridge. I’ve worked here for three and a half years and have really got to know and love the community.
In my role I meet people from all across the community – often people who are living with long term health conditions or who are going through difficult life events. Usually a GP or nurse will refer someone to speak to me if they’ve been finding things difficult, and my role involves speaking with the person and asking questions to help them identify changes they want to make in their lives and come up with possible solutions.
I really enjoy the diversity of my job and meeting different people. One day I could be speaking to a mother of four, the next to a retired person with a completely different experience - I’ve met some real characters! I meet so many wonderful people who just happen to be feeling overwhelmed or a bit stuck in life, and feel really privileged to be able to support someone to find their way out.
When I meet someone I’m meeting them as a human being, as a person, not as their medical condition. It makes me really happy hearing feedback from people who say that when they come to the Wellbeing Team they don’t feel judged in any way, but instead feel listened to and accepted for who they are.
My focus is always on what someone wants for themselves – not what anyone else wants for them – so I begin by asking what their best hopes are. This often requires a shift in mindset, it’s not what people are used to, being asked what’s important to them and putting themselves first. It’s a certain type of conversation focussed on empowering, not fixing. The person knows themselves and their life better than anyone, they are the expert, and my role is supporting them to come up with their own solutions. The Thistle Approach to working with people is incredibly powerful – I’ve seen the impact it can have.
As well as one-to-one work, I also facilitate Lifestyle Management groups and I’ll soon be starting a New Beginnings course for people affected by grief. The learning from the groups is really valuable, and the support people give one another within them is even more so. It’s incredibly powerful to see the effect of peer support, people building relationships and developing friendships with others who understand their situation.
I think it’s great that in Midlothian there is consistency across the whole county. It’s unique to have a service like this available in every GP practice and it’s great that it is available for people across Midlothian. I’m really proud to be part of the team here.
Find out more about the Midlothian Wellbeing Service