I’ve always worked in mental health, in a wide variety of roles and settings. I finally decided to do my nursing training at age 40 and moved forwards very quickly. I love my job, all aspects of it, but I particularly like where I work.
We work with people who are much maligned by society, because they have committed an offence. It’s important to remember they could be my relative. You have to treat people as you would want to be treated, as individuals.
The team here is very committed. I enjoy leading them, but we are all cogs in this wheel. I couldn’t do my job if the support workers didn’t do theirs. Everyone here is a task lead, for example, the lead for working with families and carers. It’s a creative opportunity for everyone to put forward ideas and innovate, which helps people to feel valued, as they are more invested in the service.
We take a therapeutic approach, following the secure recovery model. From the moment a person steps over the threshold on to the ward, we consider it the first step towards their recovery. We try to foster a therapeutic relationship. Our patients are acutely unwell. We stabilise them, build relationships and trust and, in time, they realise they can make changes. They have to accept it is up to them.
Success to us is getting someone stabilised, getting them engaged, building relationships and moving them on to the recovery and treatment ward, and eventually low secure, which is a great achievement. We sow the seeds here, we don’t always get to see the ultimate outcome. We can move people from acute psychosis to more stability. Sometimes it is enough just to see someone smile. You can’t always expect major changes.
A team member here needs to be both passionate and compassionate. To be able to think through why someone is behaving aggressively, what has triggered this behaviour. The key is not to be reactive or punitive. You need to be patient, not judgemental, despite what’s gone before and what is present now.
I feel very fortunate to love my job. I believe we’re all on a sliding scale with our mental health. It’s not a case of ‘us and them’.