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A day in the life of mental health nurse at HMP Wealstun

My name is Alex and I am a Mental Health Nurse at HMP Wealstun. I have held this role since December 2016 and enjoy the experience and opportunities available to me.

I have a degree as a mental health nurse and previous experience working in a medium secure psychiatric hospital and thought I could use my skills well in a prison environment as well as develop knowledge and learn new methods to enhance my practice. Working within the Health in Justice sector brings about many challenges as well as a lot of positives just like any other healthcare role.

Can you run through some of your daily tasks?

My job includes running a clinic in order to manage my primary care mental health caseload of approximately 15 to 20 patients. Some additional responsibilities of mine includes fulfilling the on-call duty worker role to manage prisons in 'crisis' as well as attending ACCT reviews to assess those more vulnerable and exposed to risk. I work as part of a mental health in-reach team consisting of secondary care mental health nurses, primary care mental health nurses, a psychiatrist, psychologist, learning disability nurse and a mental health support worker. We have regular team meetings to discuss patients on our case-load to ensure there is transparency amongst the team as well as offering clinical supervision.
Aside from this, I also oversee the healthcare reps within the prison which involves recruiting a team of reps, aiming for two per wing, who support healthcare on the wings through healthcare promotion, putting up posters, supporting individuals through a variety of healthcare related needs, ranging from helping them fill out a healthcare app to offering advice about services. A key aspect of their role is to ensure healthcare appointment slips are distributed in order to reduce appointment non-attendance.

What are some of the challenges you face?
The demand to receive mental health input is often a challenge to manage. We often see prisoners displaying a wide range of symptoms, emotions and perceived needs and having to adapt to the individuals is challenging but an important requirement for any mental health nurse!

What are some of the positives and highlights?
Building professional rapports with patients on my caseload and seeing improvements in their mental health to the point where I can discharge them and know that my work has had a direct impact is very satisfying.

What do you believe are the most important skills needed?
Effective communication and being able to adapt to different types of individuals.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
Football is a big passion of mine, in particular Crystal Palace FC! I’m also a member of a running club and going for a long distance run often helps clear my mind.

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