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Help in a crisis
Marie: Clinical Team Leader

Marie Johnson_550px.jpg
What does a usual day look like for you?

Generally the Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) team works 8am-8pm, seven days a week, but I work Monday to Friday. I usually start at 8 in the morning, and we have an hour-long handover. Part of my role is allocation of tasks to team members for the day, and prioritising the referrals that have come in. This helps me to decide who needs to be seen urgently that day, and whether there are some cases that might be less urgent that can then be deferred to the following day.

The rest of my day can vary from day to day. Once a week we have to do a bed report, which is a report on the DIST service as a whole. I have to report on the number of referrals we’ve received that week, any discharges, and give details on the priorities assigned to each case. This is to check that we are meeting the standards set by the Trust governance team.

I also get very involved in the more complex cases we handle, so for example if someone has become very unwell in the community and they need a Mental Health Act assessment or we’re considering admission I will get more involved and support the team directly. I will also go out and do urgent initial assessments for the team if we’re particularly busy, and this allows me to keep my toes in the clinical side of my role!

I’m also involved in liaison with GPs and other external agencies like social services, as well as with the care home where we have a number of Alternative to Admission beds. Additionally I will often visit Norwich and liaise with staff at the Julian Hospital there when they are holding review meetings that involve service users from West Norfolk.

What made you want to work for the Trust?
I was living in this area and all my children went to school in this area, although they’ve all now left school and one of them is going to university at the University of East Anglia.

So currently it’s a necessity for me to be based here in West Norfolk because of the children. But in terms of the Trust as a whole, I did my nursing training at UEA and I didn’t even consider moving out of Norfolk and out of the area after my training.

What parts of your job do you find the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part for me has been working as a clinical team leader where I have been able to evaluate the service, look at how we operate, and introduce the team to new and better ways of working. I also evaluate and work alongside the other team members, and that his produced a very productive and efficient team. That’s been a real positive, and I feel I’ve gained a lot of experience in management.

The other real positive is that personally I enjoy working with older people, and I would say it’s a privilege to work with the older person. So getting the team running efficiently and able to provide a good service to older people is what I would say I’ve gained from this role.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?
I found people management a bit of a challenge at first, as previously I was a community nurse with no line management responsibility. I found that there were a lot of challenges – and positives – around managing people! I’ve had a lot of support from the HR department with various aspects of managing people, but dealing with staff issues such as long-term sickness can still present a challenge.

Currently we are working at a very high capacity, so it can be challenging to allocate the work efficiently and ensure we don’t miss anything. So as much as possible we have to look at processes and how they can be streamlined to ensure we’re doing the best job we can, and covering all the needs of the service user.

What’s it like living in East Anglia?
I’ve lived here in Kings Lynn since I was 12 years old when I moved here from Suffolk with my parents. Compared to inner-cities like Leeds and London where a lot of my children have been to university, East Anglia is a much slower pace of life.

The people seem much friendlier, and, for example, you get much more involved with your neighbours. It’s a quieter pace of life. So, for me, coming back from a busy work life, it’s nice to go home to a quiet home life!

What advice have you got for people who might be thinking of joining us as a Clinical Team Leader?
I can only speak for West Norfolk, but I would recommend it to anyone – especially people who are newly qualified. We’re a small close-knit team, so there’s a lot of support there for people.

You’re not working in big teams where you get lost in the mix – over here you really are a part of a small community of close teams.