My job

Weekly walkabout in Wales

An interview with Hazel Powell, nurse director at the mental health and learning disability delivery unit, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, South Wales 

What is your job? 

As nurse director I lead nursing strategy, and the approach to care and nursing standards in the mental health and learning disability delivery
unit for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board. 

Hazel Powell
Nurse director Hazel Powell. Picture: Photodisc

Why did you become a nurse? 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be, but my mum worked as a nursing assistant at Dingleton Hospital in the Scottish Borders. I started there as an activity assistant in older people’s services and loved it, so I decided to do my mental health nurse training.

After working in mental health, I got a job on the learning disability ward, supporting people to move to community living.

I loved the diversity of working with people with learning disabilities. I realised that through listening and supporting them and their families I could make a difference, so I did a learning disability conversion course.

I have had a varied career in mental health services, learning disability assessment and treatment, community services, education, and in national roles for Scottish Government and NHS Education for Scotland. 

Where did you train? 

Dingleton Hospital for my mental health nursing, then at Borders College in Galashiels for my learning disability nursing.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I started in February, and I am enjoying the challenge of a new role in a new service and a new country. My favourite part is doing a weekly walkabout with the medical director and service director.

I learn so much through meeting patients and front line staff. I am looking forward to doing shifts so I understand the challenges and opportunities within the service.

What is the greatest challenge? 

Managing multiple demands and finding my way around in my new job – I get lost even with satnav – and pronouncing all the Welsh place names.

What would you change if you could? 

Society’s attitudes to people with a learning disability and mental health problems. For myself, I would like the energy of my youngest daughter.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing? 

I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, reading, walking, a bit of shopping, and an occasional glass of wine never goes amiss.

What inspires you? 

Seeing people achieve things that they never thought would be possible.

What achievement makes you most proud? 

Being involved in Strengthening the Commitment [the 2012 report of the Modernising Learning Disabilities Nursing Review by the UK’s four chief nursing officers] and now being able to put this into action through empowering others and leading through change.

We have just created a new, nurse consultant-led liaison nursing service and a children’s transition nurse. I hope this is just the beginning of a wide range of roles for learning disability and mental health nurses.

What qualities make a good nurse? 

Always being open to learning, enthusiasm, valuing others, tenacity and creativity.

What advice would you like to pass on to students and junior staff? 

Never stop listening and learning, especially from the people you care for and their families. Always be proud of your profession and see the potential to make positive change. Be creative and encourage and support others.



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