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Promoting dignity in care – Dawn is our NHS Hero

After a life changing experience travelling around the UK for three months, Dawn Roe (43) embarked on a different kind of journey 12 years ago when she started her career in the NHS at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH), and she hasn’t looked back since.

Dawn started in a bank admin position at Bloxwich Hospital, and has progressed into a variety of different roles within the trust, but has always remained at Bloxwich. She now works as an older adult service administrator, supporting the ward staff with any admin tasks, as well as ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of all non-clinical aspects.

“I realised that I wanted to work in a care setting during my travelling; I know it’s cliché, but it really changed my outlook on life, and consequently me as a person” said Dawn.

In addition to her role, Dawn is also part of the Dignity Champions campaign, led by the National Dignity Council. The campaign works with individuals and organisations to raise awareness of dignity and respect in care services.

“I really love my job and the opportunities it gives me to make a difference.

“I arrange and facilitate our Dignity Champions meetings, and I have seen the group grow from six or seven people, to now over 20 members. That is a brilliant feeling to know that we are coming together to make continuous improvements to care.”

There is no typical shift for Dawn as every day is different and brings something new.

“To go home and know I’ve done the best I can each day for the hospital is the most rewarding part of my job.

“I work with such a great team who put the patients at the heart of everything they do. It’s a privilege to work with such caring people, and even during challenging times we pull together and support each other.” continued Dawn.

During her career, Dawn has had many highlights, but she recalls happy memories of Dignity Champions winning two awards at DWMH’s annual staff awards. She was also runner-up for the Personal, Fair and Diverse award.

“It’s really touching to be recognised individually and as a team for the work we do. But aside from this, the events we organise for patients are also so important to me. The film nights and other activities which benefit patients’ wellbeing are so fulfilling.”

Outside of work, she enjoys socialising with friends, running, walking her two dogs Finn and Ella, and seeing her family.

“I also love my holidays in Cyprus – I find listening to the sea so relaxing!” smiled Dawn.

So who is Dawn’s hero?

“I would have to say my parents. My mum has always been so loving and affectionate; the person I can speak to about anything. She has recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and seeing my dad look after her has been inspirational.”

Dawn’s mental health message: “Look after yourself and talk about things. Healthy body, healthy mind.”

Raising awareness – Vicki is our NHS Hero

Back in 2007, after becoming fed-up with working in retail, Vicki Gobsill (30) decided it was time for a career change. After witnessing the rewards her mum and aunty both had from working within care, Vicki decided this was the path for her.

“I studied mental health nursing at university and worked as a health care assistant at the same time,” said Vicki.

“I always felt that mental health nursing was more suited to me than general nursing, I find people fascinating and I wanted to be able to have the time to spend talking to patients and getting to know them and I didn’t feel that would be the case in an acute hospital.”

Once she had qualified in 2010, Vicki joined Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Trust as a staff nurse, based at Bushey Fields Hospital. She later moved to work at the day hospital, which used to be based at Bloxwich Hospital in Walsall. This was decommissioned in 2016 and it was then that Vicki moved into her current role as lead nurse for the Therapy and Liaison Community Service (TALCS).

“There is no typical shift for me,” explained Vicki.

“Each day is different and sees me meeting and working with different people. Half of my time is dedicated to managing the TALCS team and then with the other half, I deliver therapeutic groups or one to one sessions for people who are diagnosed with depression and other mental health conditions such as anxiety or trauma.

“I also spend a lot of time working with the third sector and volunteers who help to support people with a diagnosis of dementia in Walsall.”

Earlier this month, Vicki organised an event called exploring cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) and it is this that she says is her career highlight to date.

“CST is a NICE recommended group therapy intervention for people with dementia and is something that we deliver daily as a team, as well as supporting staff at Bloxwich Hospital to deliver on the wards.

“When we first started TALCS, we discussed having a forum where we could share learning and best practice with other people and organisations who are delivering CST, so for us to have an event, where over 70 people came together to discuss it and hear from patients who have benefited from CST was amazing and really empowering.”

Vicki said that her next big challenging is maintaining the service and developing more dementia pathways, particularly for people with early onset of the condition.

“Sadly, we are seeing more and more people in their 30s and 40s receiving a diagnosis of dementia,” said Vicki.

“So we will keep working hard to ensure that there are as many things as possible in place to support them.”

Outside of work, Vicki enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children.

“We love to spend time outdoors as a family,” smiled Vicki.

“Each weekend we go to the park – it’s our special family space.”

So who is Vicki’s own hero?

She said: “All the people that volunteer their time in Walsall, to support people with a mental health condition.

Vicki’s mental health message: “You are 80% more likely to have good mental health and recover from a mental health condition if you can see nature – so take time to spend outdoors and appreciate what’s around you.”

Dementia Action Week: 20-26 May

This week (20-26 May) is Dementia Action Week and we are delighted to share with you, an insightful poem which has been written by members of our seeing past dementia support group. The poem explains their feelings about receiving their diagnosis and how they have learned to accept and cope with it.

As part of Dementia Action Week, the Alzheimer’s Society are encouraging people to start a conversation with someone with dementia. Research shows that many people are worried about ‘saying the wrong thing’ to people living with dementia – and despite almost all of us knowing someone affected, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.

It can often be difficult to know what to say, but why not give these tips, which have been written by people living with dementia, a go.

Talk to me, smile, be a little patient and give me time to reply.’

‘A simple ‘hello’, ask about the weather, anything that you feel comfortable with.’

‘Just be yourself and yes, we will make mistakes but it’s ok to laugh along with us.’

‘I love it when people ask me questions. It gives me an opportunity to show that people with dementia exist, that we can still contribute to things going on around us and that life goes on. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like me again’

‘Just don’t ask if I remember.’

‘Don’t be afraid. All it takes is a conversation to see we’re still us.’

For more information on Dementia Action Week visit: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-action-week

Our longest serving nurse – Eve is our NHS Hero

Last weekend, we celebrated International Nurse’s Day, which takes place on 12 May every year – the birthday of inspirational nurse, Florence Nightingale.

So it’s only right that our NHS Hero this week is the longest serving nurse at Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust – Eve McDermott, who has an amazing 35 years’ service.

Born in Zimbabwe, Eve came to England when she was 19, to live with her brother who was studying nursing. Whilst living in Leeds, she decided to follow in his footsteps and started a nursing course at St. James’s University Hospital.

“I enjoyed my studies in Leeds, but I had lots of friends who lived in Birmingham, so I decided to move to the Midlands.

“I trained as a registered mental health nurse at All Saints Hospital in Birmingham and worked there as a staff nurse for two years before taking up the role of deputy ward sister at Burton Road Hospital. I moved to Bushey Fields Hospital as a ward manager when Burton Road hospital closed in the early 90s.”

Eve now works as a team manager in the Dudley North Community Recovery Service, where she oversees a multidisciplinary team (social workers, occupational therapists, community psychiatric nurses, healthcare assistants) who support patients at The Poplars.

“A typical day sees us supporting patients who are presenting for outpatient appointments, physical health checks and appointments with their care coordinators.

“Although my role is overseeing the team, I still do have contact with patients who may present without an appointment or those that are in crisis – I enjoy still having contact with a variety of different patients.”

Eve says that her career highlights are completing a BSC honours in nursing and then a master in advanced nursing practice at Birmingham City University.

“I worked so hard for these qualifications – it’s a priceless sense of achievement.”

So what does Eve enjoy most about her role?

“Mental health nursing brings different challenges each and every day, and that’s what I love. Every day is unique and tests you in different ways.

“I also enjoy listening to younger nurses, who tell me some of the things I have taught them and it makes my day when a service user tells me they appreciate the care they have received.”

Outside of work, Eve enjoys travelling, watching documentaries, going to the cinema and spending time in her garden.

Eve’s own heroes are Mary Seacole and Nelson Mandela.

She said: “Mary Seacole was a black nurse and is a massive inspiration to me. Nelson Mandela is so admirable – he spent years isolated and then came out to be president without showing any bitterness.”

Eve’s message to the next generation of nurses is: “Strive for academic excellence – always view education as unfinished business – that is the best way to drive standards.”

There’s never been a better time to talk

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (DWMH) is encouraging members of the public to TALK during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 13 May to 19 May.

The Trust is encouraging individuals who may be experiencing common mental health problems such as anxiety, low mood, stress, panic, phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and trauma to make contact with their Dudley or Walsall Talking Therapy services so that they can receive help and support.

DWMH has a team of highly experienced therapists who provide a range of therapies across Dudley and Walsall to help people get back to enjoying life and engaging with work or daily activities.

Anyone can self-refer to Dudley or Walsall’s Talking Therapy Service as long as they are registered with a Dudley (aged 16 +) or Walsall GP (aged 17+). Visit www.dwmh.nhs.uk/talking-therapies-service/ for more information.

The Trust is also holding a Facebook Live Q&A session to discuss the subject of ‘body image’, which is this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.

DWMH has partnered up with Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (BCPFT) to give members of the public the opportunity to ask specialists any burning questions they have around body image. Viewers can also find out about top tips for creating and/or maintaining a positive relationship with their body.

Anyone can tune into the Facebook Live on Friday 17 May from 1pm on the DWMH (@DWMHNHS) or BCPFT (@BCPFT) Facebook pages.