21 February 2020

Shining a light on mental health nursing

MHND Image With Wave

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust is celebrating Mental Health Nurses Day by shining a light on the wide and varied role its nurses play in providing high quality care to patients.

The trust provides inpatient, community and specialist mental health services across Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

It employs over 1,300 mental health nurses who work with patients experiencing a wide range of mental health conditions. The trust also provides secure, eating disorders, drug and alcohol, perinatal and learning disability services, as well as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and services for veterans and deaf people with mental health conditions.

Julie Kerry, Director of Nursing, said: "2020 is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife and we want to celebrate the valuable contribution our nurses make in improving the lives of our patients. Mental health nursing can provide a vast range of opportunities to work alongside and support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

"We want to thank our nurses for the kindness, compassion and care they provide to our patients and to shine a light on the valuable work they do. We hope that by highlighting some of the roles and work our nurses do, we can encourage more people to think about a career in mental health nursing."


Case studies

Allison Teagle is an inpatient nurse manager at Callington Road Hospital, in Bristol. She said: "Being the nurse manager of an acute mental health ward is a special job for me. Would I say it was easy? No, but that's the challenge and the pleasure. I get to lead a team I am proud to work alongside, to support and to manage. It's a pleasure to see the skills of my team developing all the time, which helps them to give the best care they can; to be the best nurses they can be. The patients we work with are the reason I came into nursing, and managing a ward means that I still have that important connection. I can influence how the team provides that care, championing recovery and improving patient experience. Never being afraid to try new and different things. Always striving to do something better. That is the joy of all the hard work, and hours… and the job."

South Gloucestershire
Ian Burgess is a registered nurse and non-medical prescriber, working in South Gloucestershire. He said: "I've worked in the NHS since I was 19 and I'm the third generation of my family to do so. I've been incredibly fortunate to progress from working as a Band 2 Health Care Assistant (HCA) to my current role as a Non-Medical Prescriber (NMP). My current role allows me to support medical colleagues in reviewing and prescribing medicines to patients under our service. The role allows us quicker follow-up for patients and a focus on ensuring mental and physical health are given parity of esteem. Our work has also been recognised recently at the AWP Staff Awards, where my team won the Patient Safety Award. I'm proud to be a member of the nursing profession and the NHS."

Bath and North East Somerset
Elena Ely is a community nurse manager for the Bath and North East Somerset early intervention in psychosis team. She said: "I have been a mental health nurse for over 30 years, and if I had my time over again, I would have made the same decision. I have found it to be a challenging, rewarding and very interesting profession. It is a privilege to work alongside clients and their families to come through the toughest times in their lives. I have been inspired by the courage, commitment and determination of the people we work with. At times mental health nursing is very stressful, draining and it can demand all of you, it's not a job you can do half-heartedly! But the sense of accomplishment it brings when you see people overcome difficulties and move on with their lives is unique. Mental health nursing has given me the opportunity to acquire extended skills, becoming a nurse prescriber and a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) therapist has made my job interesting and enabled me be a better nurse. As I come towards the end of my career as a nurse, I can truly say that my life has been enriched by my choice of profession. Never bored and always fulfilled!"

Frances O'Hara is a mental health nurse and ward manager at the Victoria Centre, in Swindon. She said: "I've been a mental health nurse for 31 years and have worked in a range of services including adult, rehabilitation, drug and alcohol and, for the last 19 years, specialising in dementia. My current position does not allow me to spend as much time on the ward as before but I enjoy sharing my knowledge and skills with new staff and hope that I can inspire them to always be the best they can and to always treat others how they themselves would like to be treated. There is a wide range of specialist nursing where staff can work in mental health and it's a great feeling to have the skills to help someone in their time of need and to really make a difference to their life. One of the most memorable moments in my career is when I supported a mother to keep her new born baby at home and keep the family together. She wrote me the most beautiful letter thanking me for helping her and for several years after I left New Zealand she sent me pictures of her family."

Katy Brown is an Early Intervention Practitioner at Green Lane Hospital in Devizes. She said: "I had never worked in health care before but while I was being supported as a carer by the Early Intervention (EI) Team I thought it might be something I would like to do. I applied to be a Health Care Assistant (HCA) on an acute ward in 2014 and one of the nurses suggested I should do my nurses training. I applied for the access to Higher Education Course and continued to work while studying. I then began my degree at Bournemouth University while continuing to work. It was great to have the support of the staff on the ward who could provide assistance and guidance on course work and other areas of my studies. I worked as a staff nurse on the ward for 18 months and have recently started working in a specialised area which I have great interest in and a strong passion for helping the patients."

Lisa Timmins is a staff nurse at Fountain Way Hospital in Salisbury. She joined AWP in 2010 as a housekeeper and was inspired to join the staff bank as a Band 2 Health Care Assistant (HCA). Six months after joining the temporary bank Lisa was promoted to Band 3 HCA and in 2018 she qualified as a Band 5 mental health nurse. She said: "I really enjoy my role and feel like I have achieved so much. I never thought that when I was a Band 1 cleaner, that I would be able to do my nursing qualification."

Specialised services
Eric Ntekor is a mental health nurse at Blackberry Hill Hospital in Bristol. He says: "I developed a passion for mental health over a five-year period in a very challenging environment and decided to pursue a career in mental health nursing. Through support, positive feedback and encouragement from colleagues and managers I felt inspired to move from being a Forensic Mental Healthcare Assistant in to nursing. The best part of my role is being readily available for my patients to help them make sense of their thoughts, feelings and support them through their struggle with their mental health. We work collaboratively with colleagues and patients in providing excellent care. My proudest moment whilst being a mental health nurse came when I de-escalated a rather volatile situation on shift, using my experience to create a safe and open environment where the patient felt able to engage with me."

Research nurse
Laurel Campbell-Smith is a research nurse for AWP's research and development team. She said: "I joined the R&D team about five months ago as a Research Nurse. Before joining the team, I was working as a staff nurse on a dementia assessment ward in Bath. Whilst I absolutely loved my time there, I wanted an opportunity to use skills that were not directly part of ward nursing. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to combine my two passions of research and mental health nursing I jumped at the chance. My job is varied and I work across a variety of studies which means I still get to have a bit of patient contact. The R&D department are amazing and I feel proud to be part of such a fabulous team."

If you're interested in a career in mental health nursing visit https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/roles-nursing/mental-health-nurse or to find out about opportunities at AWP visit http://jobs.awp.nhs.uk/

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