Stephanie’s inspirational story

AFG’s Oak Lodge independent hospital in Bolton has played a pivotal role in Stephanie Summerton beginning to get her life back on track.

Having just left Oak Lodge after 18 months, Stephanie has now moved to nearby supported living accommodation where she can grow her independence and continue her recovery from post-natal depression.

“Following the birth of my son I wasn’t sleeping, because of constant feeding, which went on for months. I stopped doing the things I enjoyed such as running. It changed my life so much and I became incredibly mentally tired, with physical symptoms too. My son was two by the time I eventually sought help from my local GP. After time in hospital, Stephanie was assessed as suitable for Oak Lodge – arriving in July 2017.

“At first it had a detrimental effect but after a few months I started to feel more secure. After a year I asked for more independence and requested a bed-sit which I was given. Oak Lodge has been good for me in so many ways. The staff have taught me to be more responsible for my thoughts and actions. Doing and thinking positive things that will help such as yoga and other exercise. I intend to keep active and now do yoga every morning. I’d also like to get back to my running too.”

Stephanie also enjoyed joining cooking, reading, walking and leisure groups, volunteering at a food bank, attending a pre-Brownie group and helping at a mums’ and toddler group.

“I would advise new patients to join as many activities as possible. It helps with confidence, increases your social circle and time passes much more quickly when you’re busy.”

“The great staff at Oak Lodge have helped me to come to terms with my problems and encouraged me to be active on and off the unit. This has enabled me to ‘think myself better’ and take positive risks. I have always felt like a partner at Oak Lodge and not just be a patient. Representing Oak Lodge at a recent CQC inspection and being part of the AFG awards evening reminded me that that I’m a useful person and can move on and be independent again.”

Stephanie also gave an impressive interview, representing the views of a service user, for an AFG video to celebrate Oak Lodge being awarded an Outstanding by the CQC for the overall quality of its care.

Stephanie is looking forward to working again, earning her own money, running her own home and buying a car. With a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management, she is keen to pursue her passion of library services and has already applied for assistant librarian roles. Before her illness she worked for Manchester Metropolitan University library helping students with their enquiries and providing training.

Stephanie is keen to continue to build up her bond with her son whom she sees twice a week with her mum who has been a great support throughout.

Although Stephanie has formally left Oak Lodge, she wants to stay in contact and would like to investigate becoming a peer support for patients.

“I’ve now got even more independence and I really feel that I’m getting my life back on track.”

Oak lodge Registered Manager Alvine Andrews said: Throughout Stephanie’s stay at Oak Lodge, she was an inspiring service user to both staff and peers. Even though she had distressing problems to deal with Stephanie was always willing to try new things, bring new ideas on recovery to group therapeutic work and she was always available to help others.

“We are grateful to have such an inspirational lady within our service and we are hoping that she will continue to be a peer support to others through their recovery journey.”

Oak Lodge is a 12-bed unit providing therapeutic care and support based on a psychosocial model to individuals with complex mental health needs.