Nursing Associate blog - July 2017 – Julie Houghton

10 August 2017

Hello my name is Julie Houghton and I am a trainee nursing associate at CWP.

I was working as a health care assistant at Broxton Community Care Team when I heard about the trainee nursing associate programme. I spoke to my manager and the whole team encouraged me and supported me throughout the application process.

My life as a trainee nursing associate got off to a bumpy start as I began the year with a broken wrist! Fortunately, CWP were great in finding me an appropriate placement whilst I recovered.

I spent this time supporting the West Cheshire Recovery College. This placement provided a really good introduction to mental health care. It was great to see students develop as part of their recovery and enjoy a range of classes, particularly the mindfulness sessions.

My first clinical placement was with the Community Home Treatment Team in Chester. My colleagues here went out of their way to support me and really made me feel part of the team. They shared all of their experience and knowledge with me and totally embraced the new role.

My experience with the recovery college, and my time in physical health, really helped me to see the person as a whole and provide holistic assessments to patients in the community.

During my time in the community I was also fascinated by the work of CWP’s Street Triage Team, who work with Cheshire Police in providing mental health support to incidents where the police are called.

I am now in the seventh week of my second placement, which is on the Acute Stroke Ward at Arrowe Park Hospital.

This placement has already been eye-opening. I’ve gained lots of skills and knowledge, but also an understanding of the patient journey once they are admitted to hospital, and the emotions of themselves and their families of how they might feel at each stage before they are discharged home.

I have participated in multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings and it’s been really interesting working with occupational therapists and physiotherapists to deliver person centred care to each individual patient on the ward. These staff groups have been instrumental in helping me to develop my nursing skills and I now feel confident when assessing patients.

The support from the practice education facilitators (PEFs) has been fantastic and I feel like my two year mentor Sarah really understands my role and what I am trying to achieve.

Away from the ward, I also spend one day a week with my fellow trainee nursing associates at the University of Chester. I was apprehensive about the academic side of the programme, but my time at university has opened my mind and I am now eager to learn and research topics and subjects new or that I need more information to understand. It has helped me recognise best practice, and how to reflect on practice and challenge myself.

More recently I have also had the opportunity to work with one of the lived experience connectors who has agreed to support the programme.

 Their previous experience of mental health services has been invaluable.  They have helped me understand all of the emotions that patients go through and how the planning of their care and recovery can be done holistically to gain the best results for them and their families.

Overall I am really pleased with my first six months as a trainee nursing associated. I am embracing this excellent chance to work across physical and mental health services to fully appreciate how to deliver person centred care.

Senior Nursing Team Update: Andrea Hughes, Associate Director of Nursing and Therapies

Julie is a fantastic example of how gaining experience in one part of our Trust is transferable in another placement in a different area entirely; demonstrating how the health and social care system is interlinked,  and the impact on people and their families receiving care and support within this system. So it makes sense to respond by using a person centred approach.

 Julie also describes how she has benefitted from working with one of our lived experience connectors.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our lived experience connectors for supporting the learning of our trainees.. This is a brand new role and your experience is proving invaluable in helping us all to understand how best to meet the individual needs of  people who use our services. We are confident that your input will help us to develop more person centred care.


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