WATCHING a family member endure and eventually succumb to a long illness is one of the most agonising experiences anyone is ever likely to go through.
A bereavement led Jane Ross to turn to alcohol as a way of coping and before she realised what was happening, she was emotionally and physically dependent on it.
The 46-year-old initially thought she could battle her demons on her own but, with the support of family and friends, she started the long journey to recovery by being admitted as an inpatient at Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme.
As a recent graduate of the three-month intensive rehab at the community-based initiative, she is now embracing her aftercare programme as she strides towards her personal recovery.
But while Jane praises the whole team at LEAP for helping her through, one particular member of staff was her “Health Hero”.
Tracy Gaughan – a therapist at the rehabilitation programme who provides patients with one-to-one therapy, group therapy and also runs the in-patient women’s group – was pivotal to her recovery to date.
Her invaluable support and encouragement led Jane and her family to put her forward for the NHS Lothian award.
The initiative, backed by the Evening News for the third year, aims to highlight the thousands of unsung heroes in the NHS who make all the difference to their patients.
“Tracy was the key to me even initially acknowledging I had a problem and then beginning to slowly engage with the intense programme and active therapy which is key to the rehabilitation process,” said Jane. “At first, I found it difficult to admit that I was sick but she taught me that admission was key to the beginning of gaining wellness and to ultimately ‘wear my recovery with pride’. The rehabilitation programme is one of the hardest emotional and physical things I have ever done.”
Tracy’s empathy is very real, her kindness rooted in understanding. She makes no secret that she has been a recovering addict herself for 20 years and because of her own experience, she went on to work in addiction therapy.
She started in the field 15 years ago and has been at LEAP, a centre for people battling drug and alcohol addiction, since it opened in 2007.
Her “gentle but assertive” approach has won her plaudits from a number of patients – with the centre recently celebrating the 400th graduate passing through its doors.
The unwavering support, at times when it would seemingly be easier to give up, has carried people through the toughest times in treatment. “She also makes it feel as though she is wrapping you up in a safety blanket and teaching you to stand tall against your addictive illness and the stigma within your own mind and the mind of society at large,” Jane said.
“Tracy has a strong belief in the recovery process and there were several key points in my inpatient treatment where she believed in me when I didn’t and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“She really is an unsung hero and I would absolutely love for her to get the recognition she deserves through this award.”
NOMINATE SOMEONE SPECIAL
IF you have your own health hero nominate them today.
Any NHS Lothian staff member is eligible to be nominated by patients, their carers or family members.
Nomination forms can be accessed online here: http:/www.nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk/mediacentre/CelebratingSuccess/Pages/default.aspx, by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0131-465 5645.