My job

Mental health and dementia lead

Gill Drummond reflects on her career and what makes a good mental health nurse

Gill Drummond reflects on her career and what makes a good mental health nurse

Mental health lead Gill Drummond receives the CNO Silver Award for Excellence in Nursing from chief nursing officer for England Ruth May
Mental health lead Gill Drummond (right) receives the CNO Silver Award for Excellence
in Nursing from chief nursing officer for England Ruth May

What is your job?

I am a mental health nurse with 34 years’ experience and my current job is mental health and dementia lead for North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. This is a new post in the trust and is a key professional leadership role with a multidisciplinary remit.

I work alongside the chief nurse, heads of service, management and clinical leadership teams, education and training, clinical audit and safeguarding teams. Our aim is to ensure safe, equitable, effective, efficient and timely services for patients experiencing mental illness, including dementia and emotional distress, and their carers, when they call 111 or 999.

What are your main responsibilities?

To develop and embed robust quality and governance processes relating to mental health and dementia at the trust. I provide assurance in relation to clinical quality and safety standards relating to mental health and dementia.

I also provide an advanced and expert level of practice education as well as supporting the development needs of our staff in relation to mental health and dementia.

I am responsible for ensuring that the 17 recommendations in our three-year mental health and dementia strategic plan are progressing and that the plan results in improvements to the service we provide and, crucially, to the experience of our patients and our staff.

Trust staff often work in challenging circumstances supporting patients who are acutely mentally unwell with complex, multifaceted psychological and physiological needs.

I also have management responsibility for our frequent caller team. Many of these patients experience mental health problems and make calls to the service because of their unmet mental health needs.

Why did you become a nurse?

I wanted to be a nurse from when I was a small child. My main motivation at the time was that my sister, who is 15 years older than me, was a nurse and would share her experiences. To a small child in the 1970s, nursing seemed a very glamourous job.

As I got older and matured my motivation changed. I realised that I wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives, especially those who are vulnerable.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The greatest enjoyment comes from feeling I am making a difference to our patients and staff. I also enjoy working for an organisation keen to develop mental healthcare, so there is better parity of esteem and our patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time from the right person.

What is the greatest challenge and how have you overcome it?

Acclimatising to the tangible differences between working in a mental health trust, which I did for 34 years, and then changing career path to work in the ambulance service. I have overcome this by immersing myself in the organisation, getting out and talking to our staff, managers and patients, and learning from them as much as they are learning from me.

What inspires you?

My patients and their carers. Hearing their stories of how they cope and, when given the right support, move into the recovery phase of their illness or improve the quality of their lives.

What do you do in your free time?

I have a static caravan in Cumbria – my place for reflection and relaxation. It’s a beautiful part of the world.

What achievement makes your most proud?

I recently received the Chief Nursing Officer Silver Award for Excellence in Nursing. I was nominated by the chief nurse of the North West Ambulance Service after working for the organisation for only six months.

What makes a good mental health nurse?

Without doubt the 6Cs of nursing: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment, together with two of my own – curiosity and common sense.

What is likely to affect nurses working with people with mental health needs over the next 12 months?

I feel optimistic that with the aspirations in the NHS Long Term Plan, and the priority being given to mental health to address the imbalance experienced by our patients in terms of parity of esteem, there will be investment, particularly in crisis care. This can only be beneficial and will make a huge difference to nurses and other professionals working with people with mental health needs.

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

Our patients are our greatest teachers.

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