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Alison Naylor

"To anyone thinking about working for the NHS, I would say it’s never too late!"

Alison Naylor is an Information Manager/Data Analyst in the Mental Health Act Office, based at Hellingly in East Sussex.

Here’s her story:

I used to work in a high powered job in London as an international development manager for a music company. My job involved travelling around the world to meetings, with the sole aim of making money for the company.

I took 18 months off work to have my son in 2006, and when I was ready to go back to work I didn’t want to go back to my old job. I wanted to do something more relaxed, so I joined Sussex Partnership in a temporary position at the Beechwood Unit – a service that provides Dementia care.  

I loved the job and actually found it was the complete opposite from being a laid back job as I had anticipated.  I started to think ‘why didn’t I do this earlier?’

It can be very challenging but also very rewarding working with people with Dementia and I found the rewards far outbalanced the challenges. I found myself weeping regularly over people’s stories and their backgrounds and I grabbed on to the positives. I developed an admiration for people working closely with the patients at the unit and I decided the NHS was where I wanted to work.

I progressed through the organisation in various administration roles and in January 2018 I will have been here for 11 years.

My current role is Information Manager / Data Analyst in the Mental Health Act office. I specialise in data relating to the use of the Mental Health Act and I am also responsible for drafting responses to the CQC following Mental Health Act inspections, improving quality and service planning.

I have now got to a point where I understand how my role helps other people. And through this role I knew I wanted to work more closely with patients – doing some kind of support work.

I completed some training so I could join the Bank and I now work in a support worker position in addition to my day job. In January 2017 I completed my first support worker shift at the Hellingly Centre. I’ve picked up the odd shift here and there, and I really enjoy working closely with patients. 

My support worker role involves talking to patients about how they feel and spending time with them doing activities. It’s so important to me and I know I make a difference. 

The sky’s the limit in terms of what you can get involved in if you really want to, from working outside on a vegetable garden to giving advice on photography sessions. There’s always scope to do other things if you look for them. You just need a little of your own time and maybe some voluntary work.

I’ve also been out talking to schools to encourage kids to think about careers in the NHS. I enjoy getting out and talking about mental health.  I want the young generation to know that you don’t necessarily need to be a psychologist to work in mental health. There are lots of other opportunities. 

Why I love working at Sussex partnership… I work in a wonderful team with wonderful colleagues. I have great support and my line management is strong. It’s a team where you can be creative and you’re supported to make changes. 

I love this trust and I love working for the NHS. I feel that whatever you have to say, the trust listens. I look forward to coming to work every day. The people, the patients make it worthwhile. 

To anyone thinking about working for the NHS, I would say it’s never too late!

When I think back to my old job working in the music industry, it just doesn’t compare to playing a game of pool with a service user at Hellingly - especially when you win!