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Recruitment day for mental health and LD vacancies in East Suffolk

​A recruitment day will be held at Ipswich Corn Exchange early next month for mental health and learning disability vacancies in East Suffolk.

It will take place on Thursday, 7 June between 11am and 7pm and is being organised by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

It follows a successful open day attended by 70 people that NSFT held at its Woodlands unit in Ipswich on 15 May in order to recruit staff to its inpatient teams that are based there.

Tara Brown, Modern Matron at Woodlands, said the 7 June recruitment fair is not only about vacancies at the unit but about inpatient and community-based mental health vacancies throughout East Suffolk and learning disability nurse vacancies in Ipswich.

"We have vacancies for qualified mental health nurses, qualified learning disability nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, assistant practitioners and clinical support workers," she said.

"This is an exciting time to join NSFT as we are focusing strongly and enthusiastically on quality improvement and implementing positive changes.

"We have a strong relationship with the University of Suffolk and the University of East Anglia and we support our staff with continued professional development.

"We have taken great strides in supporting clinical support workers in their own development through foundation degrees and flexible routes towards nurse training."

Staff will be available to talk to people about their experiences of working for NSFT and service users will also be there to talk about the Trust from their perspective.

The Woodlands unit, which is on the site of Ipswich Hospital, has vacancies for qualified nurses and clinical support workers. Its four inpatient teams comprise two adult acute wards (Avocet Ward and Poppy Ward), an older persons' ward which includes people with a diagnosis of dementia (Willows Ward) and a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU – Lark Ward).

East Suffolk has three multi-disciplinary Integrated Delivery Teams (IDTs) providing community-based care which work across the age ranges from child and family to later life.

In addition, there is a Learning Disabilities Intensive Support Team which works with service users and their carers in their home environment, and acute inpatient care is provided to people with a learning disability and mental health needs in Walker Close, Ipswich.

Some of NSFT's "health ambassadors", who act as role models to young people, offering them the chance to find out as much as possible about jobs and professions in health care, will take part on 7 June.

Staff and students from the University of Suffolk will be available to promote learning and career pathways which are available for NSFT staff.

The Band 5 (qualified) nurse posts at Woodlands come with a recruitment premium of £3,000. One half of that amount is paid to the successful candidate on appointment and the second half after a six-month probation period has been successfully completed.

* Anyone who is interested in working for NSFT in East Suffolk but who is unable to attend the recruitment fair at Ipswich Corn Exchange on 7 June should contact Tara Brown for further information. Tel 01473 891762; email


As stated above, one of the wards recruiting staff is Willows Ward, which includes people with a diagnosis of dementia. This week (21-27 May) is Dementia Action Week which is designed to encourage people to take actions – both big and small – to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Below are two case studies of NSFT nurses (one working in Ipswich and the other in Norwich):


Dementia Action Week case study 1 - Sandra Bailey

"It's often the smaller things that can make the biggest difference to people with dementia and their families"

Sandra Bailey (pictured) was appointed Team Leader of the East Suffolk Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) just one month after it was launched in the summer of 2012.

She heads a dozen-strong team, which includes nurses, occupational therapists and support workers who work together and with other agencies to prevent unnecessary admissions to Ipswich Hospital and to help people leave hospital as soon as possible with the right care and support.

"I enjoyed the challenge of setting up a new team, and supporting and developing my colleagues. I'm really proud to have such a dedicated, motivated and committed team.

"I still very much enjoy the clinical aspect of nursing – getting out to see people in their own homes, working with them and their families and, hopefully, leaving them in a better situation than when we first met. It's a privilege to be allowed into these people's lives and homes.

"We support families and carers and work with other agencies, such as GPs, Adult and Community Services and Community Healthcare Teams. The work can be very varied – you just don't know what referrals are going to come through the door!

"What I like about dementia nursing is that you get a variety of things to look at – it's not just dementia. People with dementia often have mental health issues also, such as depression, and we need to look at physical health issues and social care too.

"It's often the smaller things that can make the biggest difference to people with dementia and their families. To be able to talk to someone who they feel understands their plight and can provide them with an explanation for the changes they see in themselves or their loved one – a validation of what is happening for them – is often all that is needed.

"This is particularly welcomed when accompanied by simple practical advice on how to overcome some of the challenges or by making connections on their behalf with the right people when they feel they don't know where to turn or what help is available.

"I went straight from school into nurse training at Ipswich Hospital, which is where the DIST is based, qualifying in 1987 with only the nursing registration qualification. My mother was an HCA in the community and my grandmother experienced bouts of depression and for a brief period attended the day hospital at the now closed St Audry's Hospital in Melton, where I have also worked.

"I think these factors sparked my interest in health care and in mental health specifically. My entire nursing career has been spent in Suffolk and in mental health. General nursing has never appealed to me.

"I'm fortunate to have been supported to develop both clinically and academically by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, having been funded to complete my Master's degree in Clinical Practice. This summer I will complete my training as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. It can be hard work but I do enjoy learning.

"My advice to newly-qualified nurses is the more you put into nursing, the more you get out of it. Be prepared for constant change and ongoing development. Nursing never stands still and there is always more to learn."


Dementia Action Week case study 2 – Louise Hyde

"It can be incredibly rewarding – you feel you are making a difference"

A Norwich Staff Nurse has spoken of the positive impact which small actions can make to the lives of patients with dementia and their families during Dementia Action Week.

Louise Hyde has worked on Beach Ward at the Julian Hospital, which is an acute admission ward for people with dementia run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), since November.

She has described the enjoyment she gets from working with patients and their families and the importance of getting to know each individual so that you can help them take part in activities which are meaningful to them – in turn boosting confidence and maintaining independence.

"I decided to move to Beach Ward as I wanted a new challenge and older persons' care was a completely new area to me," said Louise, who previously worked as an adult mental health nurse within the community. "It seemed like a good opportunity to use my skills in a different way.

"It's a steep learning curve and there's lots to think about as our ageing population can have complex physical health issues as well as mental health challenges, but I'm really enjoying it so far and am relishing the opportunity to work with a different patient group.

"When people come to us they have often reached crisis point, which can be really stressful for both the individual and their loved ones. It's vital for us to support families and carers as well as the patient – they are such an important source of information and are often key in telling us how to keep the lines of communication open. That is so important as the patient can be frightened because they are in unfamiliar surroundings – any barriers to communication can add to that confusion and make them feel very frustrated and vulnerable.

"I enjoy having so much direct patient contact and being able to provide patient-centred support as people progress on their recovery journey. We try to make sure we focus on what is important to them and what activities they would like to do on a day-to-day basis so that we can maintain as much of their independence as possible.

"One small thing which makes a difference to our patients is approaching them all as individuals. It's vital that we find out as much as we can about each patient, involve their families and get to understand a bit about their lives so that we can provide the best possible care and encourage and support them to take part in meaningful activities in a safe way.

"Sometimes it can seem like you are taking really small steps, but it can also be incredibly rewarding as you feel you are making a real difference to the individual patient and their quality of life."

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