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Mental Health Nurses Day 2020 - Lorna talks about her 25 year career in Mental Health Nursing

21 Feb 20 - 21 Feb 21

To mark Mental Health Nurses Day 2020, our Head of Nursing for West Herts, Lorna has shared her story about her career spanning 25 years as a Mental Health Nurse...

Last year it was my 25th year as a Registered Nurse in Mental Health and I am really honoured to have been appointed as a a Head of Nursing in my organisation last year too. I am the first nurse in my family but knew from being in secondary school that I wanted to do something in the caring professions, in fact my English O- Grade paper was on the subject of wanting to become a nurse !

I was encouraged by a work friend to try mental health nursing – she had a friend who was a mental health nurse in London and I liked the sound of it. At 17, I moved from Scotland to undertake my training in Essex. I still clearly remember my first placement which was on a medical ward being given the responsibility of helping a man who’d had a stroke to have a wash.

I was really struck by his vulnerability and I remember feeling privileged of being involved in his care – helping him do what he couldn’t do without support and being able to explain what i was doing to help and why. That belief that nursing is a privilege has never left me in my career.

Through the years I’ve worked in a range of settings from children’s services to older adults; inpatient, home treatment and primary care in clinical roles as well as operational management roles. I think my time as a community nurse taught me the most about myself and mental health nursing. I joined a great team who challenged one another to provide proactive and innovative care but it was working with people and their families in their own homes that taught me how to offer care and support that helps people realise their own recovery plans.

I strongly believe in public services and our role in understanding and dealing the stigma that still exists with mental ill health and the also the exclusion within society and in communities that it can bring. The 6 c’s of nursing really resonated with me and I feel that courage is the most vital – courage to what’s right for individuals and services; courage to speak up about inequalities or unfairness or lack of respect for individuals or groups – this relates as much to our service users and carers as it does our staff and the wider public.

I am a proud NHS nurse and love that we as a profession can provide a wide range of interventions and support to individuals and families and to organisations. I am a firm believer in multidisciplinary and multiagency working in order to deliver great care and treatment. It’s not always easy with differing targets and criteria’s but I encourage all nursing staff and colleagues to be open to possibilities and in always keeping the service user at the centre.

I encourage people to join the profession as it’s the best job in the world. Nursing will challenge but also provides so many opportunities for an amazing career – and most definitely will offer personal growth too!

Thanks to Lorna for sharing her story.

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