Amie is a senior support worker at Cedar House and along with Sophie Masson from Cedar (and eight other successful candidates from other hospitals) has been accepted onto our Grow Our Own Nurses programme. Amie tells us about her journey so far:
‘When I was 17 a close family member became very mentally unwell. They were eventually nursed back to full health but seeing their journey, from having no hope to being absolutely transformed, made me realise that I wanted to be a part of that.
I was working in a pharmacy as a medication dispenser when my husband took a job as a support worker at Cedar House. He absolutely loved it. It was his enthusiasm and his conviction that I would also absolutely love it that convinced me that maybe this was something for me.
Happily my application was successful and I started as a support worker at Cedar House in February 2014. I could never have envisaged how quickly I would be able to progress at Huntercombe. I was running a ward after just one year and when my colleague suggested I should apply for a senior support worker role, I did and was successful.
I’ve also been responsible for a project called ‘Brain in Hand’ which is an app that helps both patients and support staff manage challenging behaviours. Patients are able to use it to monitor how they are feeling and alert staff prior to reaching crisis point. Staff use it to ensure the critical consistency of care for patients who require a more specialist approach. The app includes every detail of every day including questions patients ask such as ‘how many centimetres is my apple tree now?’ and the ‘correct’ response which would be updated each time in the brain in hand when the tree is measured, to ensure that the staff answer correctly.
The app’s been so successful that the CQC inspector mentioned it as an example of innovation when they last inspected Cedar House and there are now conversations underway about rolling it out across the group.
The level of support I’ve had from the Huntercombe Group, as well as colleagues has helped enormously. Not only is training and development available but you’re really encouraged to take part. Huntercombe supported me to do my QCF Level 3 diploma and I have now been accepted onto the Grow Our Own Nurses programme which will enable me to become a qualified mental health nurse.
Whilst I love being a senior support worker I feel that becoming a qualified nurse will enable me to really impact care in a different way. I’m so excited to start studying and lots of my nursing colleagues here at Cedar have offered to help should I need it. Plus, there are the other Huntercombe students on the programme who are all really supportive of each other.
I’ll stay in touch with the team and my successor for the Brain in Hand project as I will continue to work 3-4 shifts a month as part of the Grow Our Own Nurses programme. I’ll also return to work at Cedar House for at least two years following graduation. Apart from these two requirements my degree is fully funded and I’ll receive my normal salary whilst studying. What more could I ask for?
I’m not at all phased about the academic element of returning to studying because of all of the written work and presentations I needed to do for my QCF qualification. I’m more concerned about driving to and from university and placements – I’m a terrible driver and just hoping that the extra driving will enable me to get better!
Apart from that, I’m just really looking forward to my degree and then returning to nursing to be able to make a difference to people’s lives.