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Q&A with Russel McVitie – Activities Co-coordinator & Counsellor

newsletter-russel-2008Russel McVitie is our Activities Co-coordinator. We asked him a few questions:

What consists of a typical day’s work at PROMIS?

I have a duel role, I am primarily here as a Twelve Step Counsellor but I am also responsible for the patients’ Health and Fitness wellbeing during their time here. My day is comprised of facilitating groups, writing up notes, spending time and being available for any of the patients (not just my focal patients) going through all the administrative processes connected with managing my focal patients. I am also responsible for monitoring the patients’ weights during their time here and I am involved with contolling how much exercise is appropriate for them.

What do you do to monitor the patients’ exercise?

If patients show an interest in doing any physical exercise during their stay here I ask them to fill in a Healthy Lifestyle Information Questionnaire. This gives me vital information regarding their exercise habits and what activities they may enjoy doing. A recent development has been to add this into the focal intake process. When, as counsellors, we do an intake with a new patient we can ask them if they will be interested in looking at their physical health during their time here. This information is vital for me to then be able to develop a programme to suit their needs.

What interactions do you have with the patients when planning their physical activities?

If a patient comes in and is interested in doing any physical activities during their time here, I will have a consultation with him or her to ascertain specific needs. Some patients are regular exercisers so it may just be a case of going through the Healthy Lifestyle Questionnaire and Pre Test Lifestyle Screening and then doing an induction in the gym to familiarize them with our equipment. However, some patients may not have exercised before or not done anything for a while and so will want me to write a programme for them. I have also worked with numerous eating disorder patients on a one to one basis and monitored their progress.

What kind of activities do you offer to the patients?

We offer a whole range of physical activities here including – Gym, Karate, Yoga, regular timetabled walks. There is also a wide range of sports facilities available including Tennis, Badminton, Table Tennis, football, cricket, volleyball, rounders and bike rides. We also have some golf clubs and balls so any patients who want to practice their swing and short chipping game can do so in the garden. There is also a croquet set available for the more refined patients who come here. Basically, we can facilitate any form of exercise that the patients would like to do and if we don’t have the means on site, we can take patients off site or bring in specialized facilitators. We have, had a Tai Chi instructor come in and work with the patients in the serene surroundings of the garden in the summer. Also we have had a World Champion Tae Kwondo instructor do some one to one training with a previous patient. We have even taken someone out to do some clay pigeon shooting and taken patients out swimming.

What Effect does excercise and physical activity have on a person’s recovery at PROMIS?

The contributions that exercise makes towards someone getting better are immense. Many studies have linked physical exercise with an effective improvement in mental alertness and productivity. Modern living is full of negative stress and the best cure often proves to be regular aerobic exercise. Even short bouts of moderate regular exercise can produce natural endorphins which medical scientists say are more powerful in the control of stress or depression than any man-made drug. By increasing energy levels through regular exercise, your heart and lungs will become stronger and more efficient in using the vital life giving oxygen and improve your overall fitness. This will ultimately give you more energy and a zest for life. I am hoping that during their time here at Promis the patients will take the opportunity to address both their psychological (mental) and physiological (physical) health. I am a great believer in striving to obtain and maintain keep total abstinence of any mood altering substance or behavi
or by attaining total health, both physically mentally and spiritually (body, mind and spirit).

What plans for development are you looking forward to?

I believe the plan for the new recreational building have been agreed and the project is due to be completed by 2010.

This will in my opinion be a massive advantage for Promis as something that will enhance the quality of service that we have to offer here. However, until this building is complete, there are plans to re-vamp the existing gym over the next couple of months. I would also like to develop a Personal Training package that we could offer our patients together with some form of aftercare Counselling/Personal Training service to help patients who have recently left adjust back in to life. I would also like to be able to offer our patients the opportunity to try anything new during their time here and be able to take them off site on occasions to participate in activities such as Rock climbing, Absailing, Kayeking and other out door activities.

What are your personal interests/hobbies?

Health and Fitness has been a massive part of my whole life. I feel totally connected and spiritually cleansed when I am out on a run or on my road bike, riding through the beautiful country lanes or participating in any form of exercise. It is  never a chore for me, it is a way of life. I also love to travel and have aspirations to visit more countries in the world and experience the diversity of different cultures. I have an 11 year old son, Ollie and spend as much time as I can with him. We play and watch a variety of different sports, go to the cinema and generally hang out together. He is like my best mate and he is a massive part of my life. What I enjoy most about my job is that every day is different at Promis. The dynamics of the patients groups change all the time but the job satisfaction can be very rewarding when you see patients coming in on their knees and then progressing through the programs and leaving with a new insight and zest for life.

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