Latest Blogs

From Bricklayer to Older Adult Mental Health Matron

‘’My name is Alex, I am Matron at New Haven, Older Adult Mental Health at the Princess of Wales Community Hospital in Bromsgrove. I’ve worked for the Trust since 2004, which is a total of 17 years now.

I left school at 16 and became an Apprentice Bricklayer, after trying that out I decided on a career change and started working for the NHS aged 18 for Solihull Primary Care Trust as a Residential Support Worker, supporting patients living with profound Learning Disabilities and complex behaviours

I then chose to complete an ‘Access to Nursing’ course alongside working in 2003, which allowed me to be able to go to University and study Mental Health Nursing which I commenced in 2005.

After qualifying in 2008 and I worked as a Staff Nurse in Psychiatric Intensive Care and Mental Health Recovery team. Within a few years I moved into a role as Deputy Ward Manager at New Haven, where I am now based. My career has progressed from there and I became Ward Manager and then Matron (my current role).

Within my current role I thoroughly enjoy working with our team as well as the opportunity to support positive change within the Older Adult Mental Health Pathway.

My advice to anyone thinking of starting a career in healthcare or working towards qualifying as a Nurse would be, be bold and open minded. When I first qualified or even as a student I didn’t expect to work within Older Adult Mental Health but it is where I have found my passion for mental health nursing and I find it truly rewarding and satisfying as a career.

I would describe our Trust as fair and inclusive. I have been given the chance to grow my career with this organisation and am thankful to those I have worked with over the years that have supported my development and given me the opportunities I have had.

I also enjoy the mixture of rural and urban culture we have in the county, we see a wide variety of patients and this helps us develop and further hone our skills as practitioners.’’

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A career in Older Adult Mental Health Nursing

Not everyone’s first career choice...

''My name is Peter, I work as an Older Adult Mental Health Nurse at the Stonebow Unit in Hereford. To help you understand how I found my current role I want to take you all back a few years first;

Imagine you’re in foster care, just left school at 16, with a pretty unimpressive array of CSE’s and an even worse school report. Well, contrary to the popular saying, I didn't feel the world was my Oyster!

However, I had my plans and I’d already passed a selection to join the Army as a ‘Junior Soldier’ at the Royal Signals Army Apprentice College. So off I went and completed basic and trade training. The army instilled a sense of pride, purpose and belief that you can accomplish goals and personal achievements with the right mindset.  

I then went to Germany to serve in an Electronic Warfare Signals Regiment. I guess for all you young ones, it’s probably like ‘Call Of Duty’ but with real people. I also found I was quite a gifted athlete, and generally achieved what I set out to do.

With my progress through Royal Signals skills, and my ‘get up and go’, my next calling was to serve with a well-known military regiment in Hereford.  By 30, I was married and decided to leave the Army, settled down in Hereford, start a family and a new venture.

I decided to train to become a Department of Transport Approved Driving Instructor, that was quite enjoyable, started a small driving school and things were going ‘okay’ but something was lacking after being in the forces for 14 years.

To contribute to the community in the evenings I became a Youth Worker, I enjoyed that and trained over the next few years gain qualifications in youth work and counselling. I also volunterred with the local Youth Offending Team, and sat of Youth Justice Reparation panels, perhaps in some way an atonement to some of my own wayward youthful experiences.

So where was I?  Perhaps it wasn’t the driving instruction that I enjoyed - but more the ‘just being with people’ and helping them in an intrinsic sort of way. Then one day I was reading the local paper, (as you did before the internet) and squashed in between the obituaries and the latest updates on the parish meetings was an article describing what being a Mental Health Nurse was all about.

The ad mentionned that so long as you’ve got a good life experience, dealt with life’s problems and could help other people in crisis, regardless of your age - come on down and have an assessment. 

You get those moments in life when everything just falls in place. The classic; ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ comes along; Only that’s just half of it. You must act in ‘the lifetime of that opportunity’.

So, I guess you see how things happen in life; sometimes things never turn out the way you plan, you get that odd ‘curved ball’ when you’re not expecting it. So why Older Adult Mental Health Nursing? By the time I’d finished my training I was too old to hang out on the skate parks with the young ones!  No seriously - although there is some truth in that, I have more of an affinity to Older Adults and their associated conditions. To me it epitomises the holistic approach to nursing reinforcing the conceptual notion that nursing is more than just a job, it is that harmonisation between art and science. 

I work on an Older Adult ward for organic illness, with a very supportive team, in ways like a family, in fact during Covid lockdowns they practically were my family. 

Now I guess in the twilight of my career, I spend time mentoring the new Student Nurses impassioning my own enthusiasm and belief that this is a valuable and worthy career with great pride.    

So my final message, you can’t re-live your past, but you can control your future, my children take inspiration by what I do and I am proud to say that my daughter is following in my footsteps.''

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The importance of work-life balance

''I started working with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care Trust in October 2020, my husband job means he is not often at home and able to help with the everyday childcare needs. The past 18 months has been a tough times for everyone, and highlighted the importance of a good work-life balance and the need for a flexible approach to working everywhere.

In the last year, my young family has seen our eldest, start school and youngest move into his final year in preschool. From Day one, the Trust's approach to flexibility has been fantastic, and the burden of work has been diminished, if not removed.

Throughout the pandemic, the Trust has maintained good communications, I always know where we stand, and they have very much put our safety first whilst also being flexible and empathetic to staff needs. Enabling us to work from home, making hours and business fit around home schooling and helping with other pressures of being a working mum. The Trust has also been supportive in making technology work for us, providing the tools I needed to work in a timely manner, like a work mobile when needed, and great IT support for my home computers (both Apple and Microsoft) to ensure I could do my job.

And finally, the Trust's commitment to team building and a positive ethos has been amazing. I have worked for five trusts throughout the last several years all over the country due to moving around with my husband’s work, and nowhere have I felt such a harmonious working environment, that enhances the team’s ability to produce work to its highest quality, but also just makes it a wonderful place to work, and even though most of my time with the trust has been working remotely, I really feel part of something bigger, and feel valued. I know that there are areas of improvement as with any trust, and I hear and see them trying to improve the lives for everyone.''

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Hear from the chair of our LGBTQ+ Network

"My name is Graham Childs, I work for Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust as a Registered Nursing Associate. I am a proud person and I identify as Gay. I am also a member of the LGBTQ + Network.

I started working in health a nearly two decades ago. I started as a Auxiliary Nurse / Health Care Assistant on a surgical unit. Within my first few months I became patient. I received fantastic care, but I was also discriminated against because of my sexuality.

After being diagnosed with testicular cancer, I was not offered; support or counselling or the chance to make a deposit incase one day I chose to have a family. I only learnt of this by another patient going through the same operation. He had a partner and identified as a heterosexual male. He was sent to counselling and to make a deposit in case he needed to use it to have a family.

As a health care professional I have also experienced discrimination from patients, whereby patients have refused treatment from me because I am ''one of those'', when I asked the patient to elaborate they said 'well you are Gay'.  

So I have seen discrimination on both sides. That is why its important to me to be a better health professional. I have recently been supported by the Trust to go through training and I am now a Registered Nursing Associate.

I started at the Trust as a Band 3 Health Care Assistant and within 3 months was encouraged to go for my training. I have worked now in the Trust for 3 years and I have recently moved from Mental Health to Community nursing and I am thoroughly enjoying my new role.

I have also been part of the Rainbow badge project and represented the Trust at a local pride event and have now accepted the position of Vice Chair for the LGBTQ+ staff network.

My name is Graham Childs RNA. Welcome one and all to an amazing Trust which embraces diversity.''

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From HCA to Community Learning Disability Nurse

''My name is Amy, I work as a Community Learning Disability Nurse/ Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner within our Community Learning Disability Team and I’ve worked for the Trust for 8 years.

I have always worked within Learning Disability services – a large part of my previous experience was working as an NVQ assessor within day services provision. In that role I trained and supported staff to achieve their full potential and provide safe and effective care to adults with a learning disability. That role inspired me to get more involved with the health and social care side of learning disability healthcare, as I have a natural passion and drive for breaking down barriers and improving access to mainstream healthcare.

I started at the Trust as Community Healthcare Support Worker with the Community LD Team in 2013. During my time in this role, I studied part time to complete my functional skills Maths and English and then completed a higher level Diploma in Healthcare. My manager and team were extremely supportive and flexible with this development. Then in 2016, I  was offered a place at Birmingham City University to complete my Nursing Degree – the trust offered me a secondment to complete this 3 year BSc Hons Degree and I qualified/registered as a Learning Disability Nurse in 2019.

I returned to the team after successful interview and began a band 5/6 development role, within 6 months I had completed my preceptorship and became a band 6 Community Nurse. An opportunity then presented to consider a MSc development role starting in September 2020 – I applied and was successful securing my current role as Community Learning Disability Nurse/Trainee Advanced Clinical Practitioner.

The support and encouragement that I have received from the Trust, my manager, team and colleagues has been incredible. I feel as though I am working in my dream role, consistently being encouraged to develop and progress throughout my career. 

I am surrounded by wonderfully creative and exceptional nurses and health professionals that inspire me every day. I am encouraged and supported to develop my practice and interventions to improve health outcomes for the people who access our services. This is extremely rewarding, seeing the benefits of collaborative, proactive and accessible healthcare is absolutely the most favourite part of my role. I work within a multidisciplinary team which in itself provides a diverse range of skills and clinical specialities – I love this collaborate way of working as it opens up many creative suggestions and opportunities which help to inform knowledge and evidence based practice. I could not do my job without the support and guidance from the professionals surrounding me. It really is a wonderful work family of support.''

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