We believe that mental distress is not just a problem to be addressed by professional experts but is a human problem that can be alleviated with a human response.
Co-workers play a key role at Lothlorien in working towards creating a home-like, conflict-free and non-authoritarian environment. The notion of community is reinforced because co-workers are choosing to make Lothlorien their home, rather than being paid to ‘look after’ residents. As community members, co-workers have an acknowledged right to have their individual needs and limitations taken into account rather than being continuously expected to be in the caring role.
Although distinctions between co-workers and residents are minimised, the co-workers have a key role to play by helping to provide support and encouragement to sustain the daily routines. They aim to take an approach of ‘doing with’ rather than ‘doing for’ so that everyone is encouraged to participate to the best of their ability. In this way, unnecessary dependency is avoided, and residents can develop their sense of autonomy and independence.
Forming and sustaining meaningful social and personal relationships is a major part of recovery. The co-worker’s role is, as much as anything else, a befriending one, which eases the residents’ transition into the social world from which many people with mental health problems are excluded. Therefore, co-workers are encouraged to relate to residents in a open, tolerant and non-judgemental manner, based on informality and mutual respect.
Activities include cooking, gardening, games, arts and crafts, driving in local area and to various events.