Annette Feaks

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When a resident thanks me for showing them respect, it is the biggest compliment I could receive

Annette Feaks,
Senior Occupational Therapist,
Hellingly Centre

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Annette's Story

I’ve been with Sussex Partnership throughout my career and the Trust has grown a lot in recent years, and as it has grown, so the number of opportunities has increased. You can build a professional network across a wide area, and tap into more resources.

My team is the central therapy team. All of us have been here for quite a few years, myself for eight, so something is holding us here! It’s a unique role, quite autonomous. We’re robust, we trust each other. I see a lot of my role as bringing structure to a person’s life. Structure is important when a person’s internal world is in a state of chaos.

Seeing people on admission go from high dependency to the recovery ward and into low secure is rewarding. I like to see them engage more, take more responsibility for themselves. People here have a longer road to recovery, so you get to build relationships and do some really positive work.

Learning life skills

We increase their responsibility gradually and they have the chance to work in our rehab café, where they build practical skills that will help maintain their recovery on the outside. They learn about catering and retail and socialise with others. The café is used by both staff and residents. Some residents take their catering NVQ, though our links with Sussex Downs College. Working at the café is seen as a real achievement.

Another innovation is our Working Together Group. We sit on a forum with, ex-service users and current service users and collaboratively seek to improve the service provision. It’s great for inpatients to see ex-service users who have recovered leading full and varied lives in the community. The roles are paid, as service user input is such fundamental and valued work.

For me it’s a privilege to take someone out into the community for the first time, perhaps after many years. It can be exciting and also overwhelming for them. I had one resident who couldn’t get on a bus. After taking gradual steps, he is now able to go to London with support. People just need the evidence that they can do it and then trust is built.

When I go home, I have a sense of accomplishment that I could respond and deliver. When a resident thanks me for showing them respect, it is the biggest compliment I could receive. When it comes to the forensic and secure service, the exterior is much more daunting than the reality of what lies inside, behind the fence.