Sue Pitman

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It’s about improving the quality of life for the family as a whole

Sue Pitman,
Clinical Nurse Specialist

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Sue's Story

As team leader I love supporting my team. I enjoy helping them to get the job done and helping the next generation of new nurses. I’m proud that people want to come and work here, it takes a special kind of person.

I did my Learning Disability training at 18, so I’ve been in the field for 30 years now. I’ve always helped people with a disability, from an early age I felt it was important that they weren’t hidden away. Even today they are often the ‘unseen’ client, because it can sometimes be too challenging to get out and about as a family.

We’ve been under the wing of Sussex Partnership for about three years. Sometimes when there is a change of trust, it’s just a change of logo, but not in this case. There was a great deal of structural change, which was stressful and unsettling. Layers of management were removed and replaced by team leaders. Once things settled down, I was able to take a CBT course. I now feel very lucky in our management team. We know each other well and they are very supportive.

My patients all have an IQ of 70 or under, or half that expected for their age. Their learning disabilities cause behavioural problems and it can be hard to pinpoint their mental health problems. It’s my job to try and understand their behaviour and their anxieties and help the parents to cope. Parents often say to me, “He might not have changed, but I can cope better now”. It’s about improving the quality of life for the family as a whole.

Strategies and confidence

A couple of years ago I was working with a young couple who had a very young son with challenging behaviour. His parents had come from a disadvantaged background and they had had a tough time. His mum was in a very negative place, she felt like she was failing her child and she said to me, “I don’t know my child”. I went through his behaviour with her and we tried to understand it together. It was like a lightbulb went on for her and she turned to me during this process and said, “I do know my child, don’t I?” She had been in a place where she couldn’t reflect and now she could recognise it. I still get goose bumps about that moment and how much it instilled confidence in her. I gave her the strategies and confidence she needed as a parent to cope. This sums up why I do what I do.