To come to a forensic and secure service may often be perceived as a daunting career prospect, but it felt open and welcoming from the beginning. Our team is a very resilient and dedicated group of people. We are as compassionate with each other as we are with the service users. There is pressure, it’s busy and can be emotionally demanding. However, everyone here is very committed to the service users and to the team.
At Sussex Partnership I have the chance to be involved in developing our services and have a direct impact on improving patient care. Our value is recognised by the Trust. We’ve done a lot of work to bring consistency, such as the introduction of individual timetables. It does a great deal for your confidence when your ideas are taken on board.
Self-harm is not uncommon, so the women here need security, structure and specially trained staff. Our activities are designed to build skills and life experience, independence, social skills and confidence. It’s a rewarding role. To be a constant in someone’s life, knowing you are that person for them, knowing you are a part of their recovery, is what makes you go back.
Seeing someone previously unable to manage certain tasks going on to conquer them is hard to beat. I had a patient who was terrified of taking the train. I watched her build her confidence and achieve more than she ever thought she could. I had another lady who never wanted to engage in therapy or any activities. We gradually brought her out of herself and now she actually looks forward to it. Sometimes the reward is simply seeing a reduction in risk behaviour, for example less self-harming, or people needing less observation. These are the everyday successes.
We’re the last environment before people step down from secure services, therefore we don’t rush it. It’s a time for detailed risk assessment. Some women may have spent more time in services than out, so leaving us can be a frightening prospect. We work therapeutically with them about accepting change. Nobody goes out unsupported.